Gift establishes new endowed chair in constitutional law and government

February 15, 2010Duke Law News

Feb. 15, 2010 — A $1.25 million gift from Duke Law Board of Visitors Chair David Ichel ’78 and his wife, Jan, will create a new endowed Chair in Constitutional Law and Government at Duke Law School, adding further depth to the school’s highly regarded constitutional law faculty and programs.

The Ichel gift, matched by funds from The Duke Endowment’s Strategic Faculty Initiative, also advances Duke Law’s strategic goal of adding 10 new faculty positions in coming years and builds on the momentum of recent additions to the faculty, including Guy-Uriel Charles, a constitutional law professor from the University of Minnesota; Laurence Helfer, an international law professor from Vanderbilt University; and Kimberly Krawiec, a corporate law professor from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The holder of the new professorship in constitutional law and government will teach courses at the Law School as well as undergraduate courses at Duke’s Trinity College, a factor that Ichel says appealed to him as an alumnus of both schools.

“Duke Law School is home to one of the country’s leading constitutional law faculties, and this gift is a wonderful affirmation of the strength of our faculty, programs, and scholarship in this important field,” says Dean David F. Levi. “It will allow us to expand our programming and deepen our faculty strength in a subject that is of tremendous interest to our students and of great relevance and importance to the larger community. I am grateful to David, Jan and The Duke Endowment for their marvelous display of leadership in support of our faculty and of Duke Law.”

The Ichel gift will be matched dollar for dollar by The Duke Endowment, the Charlotte-based charitable foundation created by Duke University founder James B. Duke. In 2008, Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead announced that The Duke Endowment had committed $40 million to support strategic growth of the faculty by endowing and helping to fund more than 30 new faculty positions.

“The Duke Endowment is proud of its longstanding partnership with Duke Law School,” says Russell M. Robinson II, chairman of the Endowment’s board. “In his Indenture, James B. Duke specifically directed support for the school, and that legacy continues today. With the Ichels, we’re excited about creating new opportunities for students and legal scholars.”

Ichel is a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City where he focuses on a wide range of complex commercial litigation, including securities and banking litigation, class action defense, product liability and mass tort defense, antitrust and unfair trade practice claims, defamation, insurance coverage, and insurance company insolvency litigation. In addition to his law degree, Ichel holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, summa cum laude, from Duke University.

Prior to being named chair of the Law School’s Board of Visitors in 2009, Ichel previously served as a co-chair of the Law School’s Building Campaign Committee and as a member of reunion committees, and the Law Alumni Association Board of Directors. He also is a past chair of the New York Metropolitan Duke Law School Alumni Association.

“Our interest in this particular gift was sparked by Dean Levi, who made the point that if Duke alumni and friends can fund a number of new professorships, we can help bring the Duke Law School to an even greater level of excellence,” Ichel says. “We decided on constitutional law and government because they are the foundations of our law and organized society, and I really enjoyed studying those subjects as a student.

“Duke has always been strong in these areas,” he adds. “Even in my corporate commercial litigation practice, it continually amazes me just how often my cases present Constitutional Law issues. I received a great foundation as a lawyer from the strength of the teaching on constitutional law at Duke and still today consult Duke Law professors on these subjects.”

Ichel adds that his undergraduate study of government at Duke was also a factor in his gift, noting that this year is the 35th reunion for his 1975 undergraduate class at Duke.

The Ichels previously funded a named scholarship, as well as a seminar room as part of the Law School’s building expansion and renovation effort that was completed in 2008. Ichel also joined with his fellow alumni partners at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett to establish the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett professorship that was awarded to Professor Richard L. Schmalbeck in April 2009.

“Jan and my interest in funding the professorship in constitutional law and government begins with our overall commitment to Duke,” Ichel says. “We see the three main pillars of giving for the Law School as student aid, facility construction, and funding for faculty and programs. We want to help in all three areas.”

Duke Law School is home to a number of research centers that explore constitutional questions, including the Program in Public Law; the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security; the Center on Law, Race, and Politics; and the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility. The Law School’s Duke in Washington program provides an opportunity for intensive study and work in government.

Faculty teaching in the field include Professor Christopher Schroeder, the Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law and Public Policy Studies and President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy in the U.S. Department of Justice; Ernest Young, the Alston & Bird Professor of Law and a leading authority on federalism; H. Jefferson Powell, the Frederic Cleaveland Professor of Law and Divinity and a former deputy solicitor general in the U.S. Department of Justice; Professor Jedediah Purdy, a widely published scholar whose work examines the issues related to constitutional and environmental law; Professor Neil Siegel, former special counsel to then-Sen. Joseph Biden and Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States; and Assistant Professor Joseph Blocher, a former Fulbright Scholar who studies capital punishment, the First and Second Amendments, and law and development.

See http://www.law.duke.edu/admitted/public for more information on constitutional law faculty and programs at Duke Law.

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