PUBLISHED:April 08, 2016

Duke Bar Association honors students, faculty, organizations with D.O.N.E. Awards

Duke Law students and faculty gathered in Star Commons Thursday afternoon as the Duke Bar Association presented the Duke Outstanding and Noteworthy Endeavors (D.O.N.E.) Awards, honoring Guy-Uriel Charles, the Charles S. Rhyne Professor of Law and senior associate dean for Faculty and Research, with the 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award. The 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.

Bob Zhao ’17 and Seth Pearson ’16 received the awards for Outstanding Student Organization Leader and Outstanding Contribution to the Duke Law Community, respectively. The American Constitution Society was honored for Outstanding Contribution to Civil Discourse, the Muslim Law Students Association won the award for Greatest Role in Building Relationships, the Health Law Society Cancer Pro Bono Project received the award for Greatest Service to the Outside Community.

“This year’s winner received the majority of his votes from his former students. I think that says it all,” said DBA Academics Chairperson Risha Asokan ’17 in presenting the award to Charles.

Reading remarks from some of his nominators, Asokan said, “He was a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and engaging instructor. He was passionate about the subject matter and wanted to see all of his students succeed.”

Charles said he was “grateful and humbled” by the recognition.

“Teaching at Duke is one of my greatest pleasures. It is a distinctive honor for me to be here and be among the very best teaching faculty,” Charles said. “This means the world to me, quite frankly. Of many things that I will be proud of, one of the things I will be proud of the most is this recognition and how you all mean so much to me and your accomplishments mean a lot to all of us who teach here at this law school.”

Zhao, who is pursing his JD/MA degree in Bioethics and Science Policy, was honored for his work as a student organization leader. He is president of the Health Law Society and the Asian Law Students Association, and staff editor of the Duke Law and Technology Review.

“He is always first to give credit to his team and refuses to accept any thanks or acknowledgement for the success of our organization,” Asokan said. “He has gone above and beyond in preparing for events, whether it is getting funding from DBA, coming up with brilliant flyers for the school, or even facilitating discussions with speakers afterwards in mini-networking events.”

Pearson, who recently completed his term as president of OUTLaw and led the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, was honored as as student “who has given [his] time and passion to build the Duke Law community,” Asokan said, reading from the nominations.

“This student has put diversity issues at the forefront of conversations at the Law School and spearheaded the tremendously successful student speaker series. He has not only made Duke Law a place where students openly engage tough issues, he has made Duke Law a more accepting and tolerant community.”

The American Constitution Society was honored as an organization that “has consistently brought Duke Law a wide range of events on important subjects.” This year, the group has hosted events on women’s health, marriage equality, domestic violence, affirmative action, and voting rights.

The Muslim Law Students Association, launched in 2016, was honored for highlighting the value of community and fellowship at the school. “This organization is new to Duke law, and this award speaks to the impact it has already had on students, “Asokan said. “As one student put it, ‘at a time when Islamaphobia is rampant, they are doing a great job at developing a competing and compelling narrative.’”

The Cancer Pro Bono Project was honored for making strides to give back to the community of Durham. The project helped 29 clients this academic year, to complete documents relating to end of life planning, all of whom were active patients at the Duke Cancer Institute, and many of whom were terminally ill,” Asokan said. Students also worked with the residents of Maple Court Apartments, a transitional community for formerly homeless residents, in completing advance-planning documents.