President Brodhead, Provost Lange, Dean Bartlett, Professor Cox, faculty, staff, and friends of the Duke Law School; I wish to thank the President and the Provost for your confidence in me. I fully understand the importance of this decision and the heavy responsibility that will soon be mine to carry.
Dean Bartlett has made it at once much easier and much more difficult for her successor by being such a marvelous Dean these past seven years. Professor Cox has been a tireless advocate of this law school. He has opened my eyes to this possibility that will soon be a reality.
For more than 16 years I have been a United States District Judge and proud to serve the people of the Nation in that capacity. Now I will take on a new set of challenges and opportunities.
To my mind, our judiciary and our great centers of learning are among the very best achievements of American civilization.
I am honored to be joining such a distinguished group of law scholars and teachers. Duke Law School is overflowing with intellectual energy and drive. The faculty has reach and ambition. Like other great law schools, through the study of law, this Law School penetrates deeply into those questions that cut across all disciplines. Its faculty examines the full range of human activity through the lens of the law within a University that has made interdisciplinary scholarship and collaboration one of its hallmarks. It produces scholarship of the highest caliber. It trains new lawyers in the art of advocacy and in the ethical responsibilities of a profession from which so many of our statesmen and women have and will be drawn.
It brings together students and scholars from all regions of the country and the world, and from all backgrounds. It treasures its diversity which it seeks to enhance and enlarge, a commitment I share.
In addressing his fiftieth class reunion in 1911, Justice Holmes said that “the best service that we can do for our country and for ourselves [is to] see so far as one may and to feel the great forces that are behind every detail . . . to hammer out as compact and solid a piece of work as one can, to try to make it first rate, and to leave it unadvertised.”
As the new Dean, I do not think that I can leave the past and future achievements of this wonderful Law School unadvertised. But I will pledge to see so far as I may, to seek out and respond to the great forces behind every detail, and with this great faculty to hammer out, to preserve and protect, a first rate center of legal education and scholarship.