The College of Law will honor the Honorable Harold Jensen with the 2018 Distinguished Bench & Bar Award during this year’s Homecoming festivities. The award recognizes an alumnus for their tireless service to the College and significant contributions to the profession.
Judge Harold Jensen was born in January of 1934 and grew up on the south side of Chicago. He attended the University of Illinois as an undergraduate where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Management in 1955. While in school, he joined the Navy ROTC program and served in the Navy from 1955 to 1957. Before leaving for duty in San Diego, he married his college sweetheart, Patricia Butler, an Urbana native and alumna of University High School and the University of Illinois.
After his service in the Navy, Judge Jensen moved to Milwaukee and worked as a manager for Continental Can. Not being fulfilled by his stint in the business world, he decided he wanted to pursue a legal career and enrolled at the University of Illinois College of Law. As a law student, he was president of the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity and a member of the College of Law's Moot Court team that took second place in the national competition in 1963 in New York City, earning the award for Best Brief.
After graduation, Judge Jensen joined a Champaign law firm that became Hatch, Corazza, Baker & Jensen where he practiced for a dozen years. While at the firm, he served seven years as a member and president of the Urbana School Board (1969-1975), and also served one year as President of the Champaign County Bar Association (1972).
In 1975, Judge Jensen was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Circuit Court of Champaign County and served until his retirement in 1996. While on the bench he was active as a member of the Supreme Court Rules Committee (1977-1988), as an Adjunct Professor at the College of Law (1983-1997), as a member and chairman of the 4th District Character and Fitness Committee (1987-2006), and as a member of the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board (1988-1996).
Following retirement from the bench, Judge Jensen stayed active in the legal community for quite some time, serving as "of counsel" at his old law firm and conducting local mediations and arbitrations. He also served for many years as a member of the Capital Litigation Counsel Screening Panel. In 2011, Judge Jensen was named a Pillar of the Bar by the Champaign County Bar Association.
Judge Jensen remained active in the community by serving as a member and president of the Urbana Free Library Foundation (2004-2010). He also served with Patricia as honorary co-chairs of the citizens committee to raise money to restore the Champaign County Courthouse's Clock & Bell Tower which was completed in 2009. The Jensen’s have generously supported the Urbana Free Library, the Orpheum Children's Science Center, and several other worthy causes in the Champaign-Urbana area.