PUBLISHED:January 08, 2018

$5 million grant establishes dean's chair at Duke Law School

David F. Levi Dean David F. Levi

A $5 million grant from The Duke Endowment has established a named chair for the dean’s position at Duke University’s law school, President Vincent E. Price said Monday.

The first James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean of the School of Law will be David F. Levi, who has served as Duke Law’s dean and a professor of law since 2007. Levi has announced plans to step down as dean on June 30. The university is conducting a search for his successor, who will occupy the endowed chair upon appointment.

“This generous grant continues the Duke Endowment’s special relationship with Duke University,” said President Vincent E. Price. “Duke has become one of the world’s leading law schools thanks in large part to the vision of James B. Duke and the continued support of the endowment he created. I am particularly delighted that the first holder of this named chair will be Dean David Levi, who has brought extraordinary leadership to Duke Law over the past decade.”

As Duke Law’s 14th dean, Levi has significantly expanded faculty, research and academic programs. He navigated Duke Law through the sharp downturn in the legal economy and its effects on legal education following the global financial crisis of 2008 and has built on its reputation as one of the world’s top law schools. The school recently completed the most successful fundraising campaign in its history, raising $132.4 million as part of Duke Forward, the university’s largest fundraising effort to date.

Before being named dean, Levi served as the Chief United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California. He was appointed to the federal bench in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush; he previously served as U.S. Attorney, appointed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. A graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School, Levi is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and president of the American Law Institute.

“The Duke Endowment has done so much for the Law School since its re-founding in 1930 as part of Duke University,” Levi said. “James B. Duke had a special regard for lawyers, doctors and ministers. He thought that by ‘precept and example,’ they could do most to ‘uplift mankind.’ In some deep way, this aspiration has worked its way into the soul of Duke Law School.

“It will be an honor for me and for future deans of Duke Law School to carry the name of the two brothers who founded the university and set such a powerful and thoughtful example of giving back. For me, the opportunity to work with The Duke Endowment, its staff and its trustees has been one of the great joys of my time as dean.”

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3.4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations. Learn more at

James B. Duke was the founder of Duke University, and his indenture created The Duke Endowment. Benjamin N. Duke, his brother, was the primary benefactor of the university and its predecessor, Trinity College.