PUBLISHED:April 29, 2008

Scholars honored with distinguished professorships

April 29, 2008 — Professors H. Jefferson Powell, James Coleman Jr., and Arti Rai have been honored with distinguished professorships. The honors were announced at a Duke University ceremony on April 28.

Powell was awarded the university’s Frederic Cleaveland Chair in Law and Divinity, which recognizes his contributions to both disciplines through appointments at the law and divinity schools. His recent legal scholarship has focused on the constitutional law governing foreign policy, the role of history and politics in constitutional decision-making, and the moral choices involved in being a lawyer. At the Divinity School, his teaching and research interests involve Christian theological ethics and the theological interpretation of contemporary society. A prolific writer, Powell is the author of A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics, and The President's Authority Over Foreign Affairs: An Essay in Constitutional Interpretation, among many other books and articles. He is co-editor of the forthcoming volume, Law and Democracy in the Empire of Force (with James B. White).

Powell has served in both the federal and state governments, as a deputy assistant attorney general and principal deputy solicitor general in the U.S. Department of Justice, and as special counsel to the attorney general of North Carolina. He has briefed and argued cases in both federal and state courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2001-02, he was named Duke’s University Scholar/Teacher of the year.

“Professor Powell is a wonderfully gifted scholar,” said Duke Law Dean David Levi. “His contributions to the fields of law and theology are profound and influential. He also is a marvelous teacher. While we honor him with this distinguished professorship, the truth is that he honors us through his work and devotion to this university.”

“Duke is a wonderful academic community, and my students, colleagues and the central administration have fostered my work in many, many ways. I am deeply grateful,” Powell said of the honor.

Coleman received the Law School’s John S. Bradway Chair, which recognizes a commitment to clinical education and public service. A pioneer in legal aid and clinical education, Bradway established the School’s first clinical program during the 1930s.

An expert in criminal law, wrongful convictions, issues relating to the death penalty, and doping in sports, Coleman is co-director of the Law School’s Appellate Litigation Clinic and Wrongful Convictions Clinic. He also teaches in the areas of legal ethics, negotiation, and mediation.

Coleman joined the Duke Law faculty after a lengthy career in private practice, during which he specialized in federal court and administrative litigation, and represented criminal defendants in capital collateral proceedings. He also has a range of government experience, including service as chief counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Education during the Carter administration. Coleman has chaired the American Bar Association Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities and Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project.

“I can think of no person more fit for the inaugural John Bradway Professorship than Professor Coleman,” said Levi. “He lives a life dedicated to the ideals on which Bradway helped develop much of the Law School’s curriculum and commitment to public service. Through his death penalty-related work, his leadership in the area of wrongful convictions, and his remarkable commitment to public service, Professor Coleman models the professionalism and integrity we hope to instill in our students.”

“This extraordinary honor came as a complete surprise,” said Coleman. “I am both honored and deeply touched. Although I am not aware of everybody to whom I owe my heartfelt thanks, I know that I am greatly indebted to [former dean] Kate Bartlett and Dean Levi for this singular honor.”

Rai received the Elvin R. Latty Professorship, named in honor of a former dean of the Law School. A leading scholar of patent law, law and the biopharmaceutical industry, and health care regulation, Rai’s current research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, focuses on intellectual property issues raised by collaborative research and development in areas ranging from synthetic biology to drug development.

Rai’s recent publications include "Who's Afraid of the APA? What the Patent System Can Learn from Administrative Law" 95 Georgetown Law Journal 269 (2007) (with Stuart Benjamin); "Open and Collaborative Research: A New Model for Biomedicine," in Intellectual Property Rights in Frontier Industries: Biotech and Software; "Finding Cures for Tropical Diseases: Is Open Source an Answer?" Public Library of Science: Medicine (with Stephen M. Maurer and Andrej Sali); and "Collective Action and Proprietary Rights: The Case of Biotechnology Research with Low Commercial Value," in International Public Goods and Transfer of Technology under a Globalized Intellectual Property Regime.

“Professor Rai is among the most creative scholars in the country,” said Levi. “The real-world impact of her work in law, innovation, and biotechnology exemplifies the value and power of interdisciplinary collaboration. Her presence here has helped to establish Duke Law as one of the most exciting schools anywhere to study and teach intellectual property.”

"I am truly honored to be the recipient of the Latty chair," said Rai. "Duke is a wonderful community in which to do the type of interdisciplinary work that I find so stimulating."