Magazine Feature / People

Graduate and grandfather have DU in common

David Fishbein (BS ’08) and his grandfather Melvin Mogulof (BS ’49) graduated from the University of Denver 59 years apart. And while at DU, they took the same class from the same professor.

Although Mogulof studied education and Fishbein real estate, the relatives both enrolled in Professor James Johnston’s business law class — almost six decades apart.

Johnston is a professor emeritus in the business ethics and legal studies department at the Daniels College of Business. He taught business law from 1946 until his retirement from teaching in 2007.

Mogulof recalls that Johnston was the first professor he knew of telling a slightly off-color joke in class. “We were discussing case law and he says, ‘Half the food and nuts in the world come from California,’” says Mogulof. “Now that I live in California, I understand.”

Fifty-nine years later, “Johnston still has his edge. He is extremely sharp and witty,” says Fishbein.

When his grandparents visited David in the spring of his freshman year, they figured out the odd connection.

“I told my grandfather that I had an awesome business law professor — who was really funny and told off-color jokes,” says Fishbein. “And he responds, ‘I had a professor like that, too. At the time he was really edgy.’ And the coincidences just kept building.”

Fishbein came to DU for the real estate program and calls it the highlight of his experience, thoroughly preparing him for a career in real estate. He traveled to California his freshman year to take — and pass — the state real estate license exam, which is “extraordinary at 18,” says Johnston.

Johnston remembers both Mogulof and Fishbein as “outstanding students” although they were “very different.”

After graduating from DU, Mogulof received, from different universities, two master’s degrees and a PhD in social welfare planning. He worked for the federal government on a diverse array of issues, eventually settling in San Francisco to work for the regional government.

Mogulof also found time to accept two Fulbright scholarships, teaching in London and Jerusalem. He retired in Berkeley, Calif., and is now a “full-time tennis player.”

Although he enjoyed living in Denver, Fishbein looks forward to returning to California, where he is considering several job options.

In the time from Mogulof to Fishbein, “There’s been so much darn change at DU, you can’t even believe,” says Johnston.

However, despite the enormous changes on campus over these years, “DU was a warm, cozy place when I was there and I think it’s still a warm, cozy place for David,” says Mogulof.

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