Duke Law students who have received scholarships and fellowships had a chance to personally thank many of their benefactors and members of the Law School’s Board of Visitors at the annual Scholarship Luncheon held in Star Commons on March 8.
In the 2012–2013 academic year, Duke Law School awarded more than 160 individual scholarships for named scholars, including 11 scholarships that were awarded for the first time, Dean David F. Levi said in his welcoming remarks.
Associate Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Bill Hoye thanked benefactors for helping Duke Law build a talented and diverse student body, and keeping the gate to the legal profession open to all deserving students.
“The students who are here today were able to come to Duke because of the support of alumni and friends of the school,” he said. “In many cases, these scholarships were the deciding factor for these students when they were selecting a law school.”
Student speaker Christopher Bryant ’14 agreed. Having been a public school teacher for three years following his graduation from Duke University, Bryant said that Duke Law, with its promise of “quality career opportunities throughout the country” was the clear choice for him, but that he and his wife had established debt limits, so it was clear that they could not afford Duke’s tuition without assistance.
“I am incredibly grateful for the scholarship that Mr. William Louis-Dreyfus [’57] provided, and for the opportunity it afforded me to attend Duke University School of Law. I can honestly say that without it, I would not be in law school right now,” said Bryant, the editor in chief of the Duke Law Journal who already has two postgraduate federal clerkships lined up.
“After almost two years here, I cannot think of a better place to be,” he said. “The students, staff, faculty, and alumni of Duke University School of Law are the most friendly, accomplished, and generous collection of people I have ever met. And in large part, that is due to the donors. All of the scholarship recipients come from different backgrounds, but we all share the same feeling of appreciation for our scholarships. It makes us even more excited about Duke Law, and even more likely to continue to the tradition of generosity in the future.
“Thank you all for making the Duke experience so incredible,” he said.
In his remarks, Board of Visitors member John R. Wester ’72 joked that he was “grateful and then some to attend Duke Law School on the Louise and John Wester Scholarship.” A partner at Robinson Bradshaw in Charlotte where he specializes in complex civil litigation at the trial and appellate levels, Wester recently made his “scholarship” official, establishing the Louise Robbins & John Howard Wester Scholarship Fund in his parents’ honor, thus benefiting future deserving students.
“However established this tradition [of giving], however warm this gathering, I am anxious that we fail to recognize the abiding threats to the opportunities of those who would follow us to this place — those who would take advantage of the Duke Law experience that has been our blessing to know, and to live,” he said, citing high tuition costs among them. “Will we answer them? I am one who believes we will find answers … and I believe in the remarkably good persons who have built what we honor today.”
Wester pointed to “a remarkable, even mysterious element” in the philanthropy demonstrated in scholarship and fellowship endowments. “In nearly every instance, those who have begun a scholarship fund have no connection to, no knowledge of, no tie whatever to those who have or will receive the scholarship they provide.
“Fundamental to these gifts is a faith that those benefiting will repay the gifts with lives that make for the best dividends of all — professional distinction with exemplary service. And the evidence of such dividends keeps on coming.
“Great lawyers-to-be keep on coming. So we cannot stop.”