Alumni Awards

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Charles S. Murphy Award for Achievement in Civic Service

Established in 1985, the Charles S. Murphy Award honors a graduate's commitment to the common good through his or her service to the community or dedication to education.

The award is named for the late Charles S. Murphy T'31, L'34, who held positions in the administrations of Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson and served on the Board of Visitors of Duke Law School and as a Duke University Trustee. He was born on a farm in North Carolina, and during the Depression, supported himself through Duke’s undergraduate and law programs by working as a night mail clerk in the Durham post office. After completing his degrees, he moved to Washington, DC to work in the Justice Department and eventually served as a close adviser and confidant to President Truman. During his years of government service, he was known for his steadfast commitment to his work, putting in 14-hour days and participating in late-evening strategy meetings.

A. Kenneth Pye Award for Excellence in Education

The A. Kenneth Pye award honors a graduate or other member of the Duke Law community whose work in education reflects former Dean A. Kenneth Pye’s life and ideals.

Pye is remembered for his personal integrity and vigorous intellect as well as his sensitivity to the needs of individual students and the great compassion with which he assisted those who might have otherwise faltered. For 21 years, he served in various roles at Duke including two terms as chancellor and two terms as law school dean. At the Law School, he spearheaded the introduction of small-section instruction and an intensive research and writing program in all first-year courses. In addition, he re-activated the Legal Aid Clinic, in which students provided legal services to the poor. Following his tenure at Duke, he served as president of Southern Methodist University (S.M.U.), where he was credited with leading the rebuilding of the university's athletic program in the wake of scandal. Duke Law Professor Emeritus Walter Dellinger has said, "In the end, what mattered most about Ken was a simple matter: his deep and abiding integrity. He went through life and work determined to do the right thing, every time, wholly regardless of whether it made people like or dislike him—which in the end, was why so many people loved him."

Charles S. Rhyne Award for Professional Achievement

The Charles S. Rhyne award was established in 1994 to recognize graduates whose careers exemplify the highest standards of professionalism, personal integrity, and commitment to education or community service.

The award commemorates the life and career of the late Charles S. Rhyne, T'34, L'35, a professor of government and law at American University and George Washington University and a trustee of Duke University and George Washington University. During his career, he argued numerous cases before the U.S. Supreme Court including Baker v. Carr, the legislative reapportionment case that established the one-man, one-vote principle. In 1955, he became president of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia on a pledge to racially integrate the Association. Two years later, he was elected president of the American Bar Association and used his platform to urge lawyers to develop the field of international law as a method to support world peace. And in his role as trustee at Duke University, he successfully fought the school’s segregation policies. He served as special counsel to President Eisenhower and in 1971 was appointed as U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees.

International Alumni Award

The International Alumni Award recognizes and honors an international graduate of the Duke University School of Law who has exemplified the highest standards of professional excellence, personal integrity, and concern for the common welfare in his or her own profession and home country.

Young Alumni Award

The Law Alumni Association established the Young Alumni Award in 2000 to honor an individual who has graduated within the past 15 years and has made significant leadership and service contributions to Duke Law School and the legal profession.

Outstanding Volunteer Service Award

To be awarded for the first time in 2021.  This award honors individuals for their excellent volunteer service to Duke Law School.  In their roles as volunteers, these individuals have distinguished themselves through their exceptional dedication and sustained commitment to the Duke Law community.

Dean's Alumni Achievement Award

The Dean’s Alumni Achievement Award honors a Duke Law alumnus who has demonstrated extraordinary service, commitment, and dedication to Duke Law School.