H. Russell Cort, an educational psychologist who in the 1970s and 1980s helped develop and lead a nontraditional curriculum at the nontraditional Antioch School of Law in Washington, died Sept. 3 at a rehabilitation center in the District. He was 87.
The cause was heart ailments, said his wife, Charlotte Streidel.
From 1974 until the school closed in 1988, Dr. Cort served in teaching and administrative capacities at Antioch. The school had been founded in 1972 as a public interest advocacy and educational institution, with a focus on nontraditional, low-income students, including African Americans, Hispanics and working-class whites.
What Dr. Cort tried to do was teach not only the fine points of law as codified, but also the fine points of “lawyering,” that is the skills and techniques essential to being a good lawyer.
In the early 1970s, Antioch had been provisionally accredited, but over the years there were disputes with the American Bar Association over full accreditation, ABA complaints that Antioch faculty were inadequately compensated, that bar examination passage rates were too low.
The school closed primarily for financial reasons in 1988. Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio — the parent organization of the law school in Washington — was struggling with funding, and it was closing satellite branches across the country.
The school was absorbed into the University of the District of Columbia and not until then did it gain full legal accreditation.
Henry Russell Cort Jr. was born Oct. 8, 1927, in Queens. He served in the Army at the end of World War II and graduated in 1950 from Dartmouth College. In 1960, he received a doctorate in experimental psychology at Cornell University.
He chaired the psychology department at Ripon College in Wisconsin. He also had been a consultant to engineers at General Electric on “human considerations,” a program evaluator at Planning Research Corp. and director of the educational studies department at the Washington School of Psychiatry from 1968 to 1971.
From 1971 to 1973, he was director of the evaluation systems department at General Learning Corp. After Antioch School of Law closed, Dr. Cort was a consultant to UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law.
Dr. Cort’s first marriage, to Ann Spicer, ended in divorce. His second wife, Elizabeth Costenbader Cort, died in 1990. His third wife, Louisa Van Wezel Schwartz, died in 2001.
In 2003, he married Charlotte Streidel. In addition to Streidel, of Washington, survivors include a son from his first marriage, Henry Cort of Houston; and a grandson. A son from his first marriage, Anthony Roger Cort, died in 2015.