In an annual tradition marking the coming end of the academic year, the Duke Bar Association handed out the 2014 D.O.N.E. awards Wednesday, honoring Professor Elisabeth de Fontenay with the Distinguished Teaching Award, Peter Bang ’15 with the Outstanding Student Organization Leader Award, and Ruben Henriquez '14 with the Outstanding Contribution to the Duke Law Community Award.
The American Constitution Society received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Civic Discourse, the Business Law Society was a repeat winner for Greatest Role in Building Relationships, and The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) also repeated, winning the award for Greatest Service to the Outside Community.
The Duke Outstanding and Noteworthy Endeavors (D.O.N.E.) Awards recognize student organizations, student leaders, and faculty who make significant contributions to the community and academic experience at Duke Law.
When presenting the Distinguished Teaching Award, DBA Academics Chairperson Kristin Bender ’16 cited students’ nominations of de Fontenay.
“‘She makes the job look easy, and she does it despite being a young teacher at Duke Law,’” Bender read. “‘Her classes never feel monotonous, and no two are the same. I always leave her class feeling more knowledgeable than when I entered, and I usually leave in a better mood to boot.’”
de Fontenay, who joined the Duke Law faculty in 2013 after serving as a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, said she was "truly touched" by the award. "My students in both Business Associations and Corporate Finance were absolutely delightful, without exception," she said. "It's been a real privilege to teach them – they made my job much too easy."
Bang was honored for his leadership in multiple organizations, including the Asian Law Students Association, the IP and Cyberlaw Society, and the DBA. But, Bender said, it was the quality of his work, not the quantity, that stood out. Bang “’goes beyond his duty to help others’” she said, quoting a nomination from a fellow student.
Henriquez, the outgoing president of the DBA, was recognized for giving his “time and passion to build the Duke Law community.” He “’was extremely involved and brought together the student body,’” Bender said, citing a student nomination. Henriquez is “’a great listener, cares about Duke, and works hard to bring people in and get them involved with activities around the Law School, all while maintaining a positive attitude.’”
The American Constitution Society was honored for expanding its presence with more than a dozen events in the past year. “Some of the fascinating events included discussions about race, bankruptcy, voting rights law, North Carolina’s political environment, and the list goes on,” Bender said.
The Business Law Society was noted for working to “bridge the gap between students pursuing their professional goals and those practicing lawyers who can help them get there.” The organization annually hosts the ESQ Symposium, a two-day event that brings employers and alumni from across the country to network with students.
VITA was recognized for community outreach for providing income tax assistance to low-income clients and under-served minority groups in the Durham area. The organization “embodies generosity of time, a commodity of which many law students are in short supply,” Bender said.