A. Kenneth Pye
Law Professor 1966-1968, Law School Dean 1968-1970 & 1973-1976, University Chancellor 1970-1971 & 1976-1982, University Counselor 1971-1973, Samuel Fox Mordecai Professor of Law 1982-1987

August Kenneth Pye became a member of Duke Law faculty in 1966.  He became Dean of the Law School in 1968, serving for two years before becoming Chancellor of the University in 1970.  He left the Office of Chancellor in 1971 to serve for three years as University Counsel, returned to the Law School as Dean in 1973, and resumed the Chancellorship in 1976.  He retired from that position to become the Samuel Fox Mordecai Professor of Law in 1982.  He accepted the position as President of Southern Methodist University in 1987.

Pye was described by a colleague as a man of deep integrity with a brilliant intellect who was widely read in many subjects.  During Dean Pye’s administration the JD degree replaced the LLB as the basic professional degree, small-section instruction was introduced in conjunction with an intensive research and writing program in all first-year courses, and the Legal Aid Clinic, which had closed in 1959, was re-activated.  In addition to his many roles at Duke, Pye also served as the president of the Association of American Law Schools in 1977, as a director of the Council for Law Related Studies, a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, and as a trustee of the Law School Admissions Council.  He was appointed Chairman of the Council for International Exchange of Scholars in 1984. Over the course of his career he taught at a number of other universities, including Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Germany, Banares Hindu University in India, and Monash University in Australia.  He was known for his scholarship chiefly in the field of criminal procedure.

In 1987 Pye was nominated by a search committee at Southern Methodist University to their Board of Trustees as a candidate for president.  The Board voted him in as ninth president of SMU on May 29.  Pye served in that position until 1994, when health problems forced him to retire.  During his tenure he oversaw SMU’s recovery from a football payoff scandal in 1986, dramatic growth of the university endowment, an increase in minority student enrollment, and new buildings and other improvements on campus.  Pye died on July 11, 1994, only three weeks after retiring.

Born in 1931 in New York City, Pye attended the University of Buffalo.  He majored in history and graduated summa cum laude in only three years.  He attended law school at Georgetown University and completed his degree in two years.  He went on to complete a Master’s and LL.D. at Georgetown.  Pye also began his teaching career at Georgetown in 1955 and in 1960 served as an associate dean.  In 1964 Pye met his future wife Judith King, a UNC graduate in Washington working for a member of Congress.   They married a year later and had a son, Henry Williams Pye.


Historical Note, Guide to the A. Kenneth Pye, Chancellor, Records and Papers, 1960-1983 (2008) http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/findingaids/uachancpye/[perma.cc/7KCU-93YA]

Biographical Note, A. Kenneth Pye papers : A Guide to the Collection (2009) http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/smu/00115/smu-00115.html[perma.cc/T2UJ-2SDW]

A. Kenneth Pye
Historic Faculty