PUBLISHED:September 01, 2010

Rowe trust will fund professorship

It is fair to say that Tom Rowe is enjoying the retired life. After more than 30 years on the Duke Law faculty, Rowe, the Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law (Emeritus), has time these days for hobbies like traveling, fine dining, and wine tasting. He and his wife, Susan French, who recently took emerita status at UCLA Law School, even bought a 43-foot sailboat, which they have sailed in Santa Monica Bay and to Catalina Island.

“Susan is the skipper, and I am the first mate,” Rowe says.

Though he now lives in Marina del Rey, Calif., and teaches a course at UCLA Law School during the spring semester, Rowe remains loyal to Durham and Duke. His affection for the institution where he spent his entire academic career led him to include the Law School in a revocable living trust that eventually will fund a chaired professorship.

“It is a place where I spent my career and that was very good to me,” Rowe says. “I had regularly given annual donations when I was earning income from the Law School, and it just seemed to me a natural fit with how I had spent my career to give something back.

“The school provides far more than a decent salary. I had great colleagues, students, and support,” he adds.

Rowe explains that his annual giving patterns changed once he started living on retirement savings; however, he says, “the sense of wanting to help didn’t change.” He believes a bequest is a natural way for donors to continue helping during retirement.

After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1970, Rowe clerked for Associate Justice Potter Stewart during the 1970-1971 Supreme Court term. He served as assistant counsel to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure from 1971 to 1973 and was an associate at Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin in Washington, D.C., from 1973 to 1975.

A third-generation academic, Rowe joined the Duke Law faculty in 1975 and says he “never particularly thought about moving.” He served as a visiting professor at Georgetown, Michigan, Virginia, UCLA, and Pepperdine, but says Duke “was the place I liked best and where I was most comfortable, so they were stuck with me.”

Rowe says faculty respect for both theory and practice and the regular interactions he shared with students made his Duke experience unique. His students appreciated those interactions as well; he received the Duke Bar Association Distinguished Teaching Award in 1985.

Rowe’s legacy at the Law School will continue with the Thomas D. Rowe Jr. Professorship funded by his living trust — provided he does not enjoy his retirement too much.

“I hope there’s enough money and I don’t spend it before I’m gone,” he jokes.