Skip to Content

From History Major to Circuit Court Judge

I left high school after my sophomore year and attended Lane Community College, taking college courses there. After two years, I decided that there was no great value in getting a BA by the age of 20, so I went to Denmark for a year to attend school and to travel. When I returned to Oregon, I enrolled at the University of Oregon as a history major. Over the next two years and one quarter I took as many European and American history classes as I possibly could. The Department was full of talented professors who challenged me intellectually, helped me develop critical thinking skills, and gave me a broad view of the world. This experience prepared me for graduate school (University of Chicago, MA) and for law school (UO).

My undergraduate degree was outstanding preparation for graduate study because my professors took an interest in me and my career and treated me as a future colleague-in-training. They challenged me, held me to high standard, and were never satisfied with less than my full effort. Several were instrumental in me being admitted to an outstanding history graduate program, at the University of Chicago.

My BA in history was also outstanding preparation for the study of law. Critical thinking, rigorous method, and broad perspective were all actively encouraged by my undergraduate professors and these skills have served me well over my years in law practice, politics, and in the judiciary.

After finishing Law School and passing the Oregon bar, I have been fortunate to practice law (for 16 years), serve in the Oregon State Senate, and serve as a Circuit Court Judge (since 1999) and as the Court’s Presiding Judge (chief administrative judge) since 2012. I am also fortunate to teach at the UO Law School as an adjunct professor.

My time at the UO Department of History was instrumental in making me who I am today. I remember with great fondness my intellectually stimulating time in the department with so many fine professors: Sorensen, Bingham, Pierson, Brady, Pope, Birn, and Sheridan to name a few. I am confident that the department continues in the tradition I valued so much.

Karsten H. Rasmussen
Presiding Judge
Lane County Circuit Court