Gift Establishes New Endowed Chair in Constitutional Law and Government

The Duke Endowment will match $1.25 million donation.

A new endowed chair in constitutional law and government has been created at Duke Law School through a $1.25 million gift from Duke Law Board of Visitors Chair David Ichel and his wife, Jan, Law School Dean David F. Levi announced on Monday. The Ichels' gift will be matched dollar for dollar by The Duke Endowment, the Charlotte-based charitable foundation created by Duke University founder James B. Duke. The new chair will add further depth to the school's well-regarded constitutional law faculty and programs, Levi said. The gift also advances Duke Law's strategic goal of adding 10 new faculty positions in coming years and builds on the momentum of recent additions to the faculty, including Guy-Uriel Charles, a constitutional law professor from the University of Minnesota; Laurence Helfer, an international law professor from Vanderbilt University; and Kimberly Krawiec, a corporate law professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The holder of the new professorship in constitutional law and government will teach courses at the law school as well as undergraduate courses at Duke's Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, a factor that Ichel says appealed to him as an alumnus of both schools. "Duke Law School is home to one of the country's leading constitutional law faculties, and this gift is a wonderful affirmation of the strength of our faculty, programs, and scholarship in this important field," Levi said. "It will allow us to expand our programming and deepen our faculty strength in a subject that is of tremendous interest to our students and of great relevance and importance to the larger community. I am grateful to David, Jan and The Duke Endowment for their display of leadership in support of our faculty and of Duke Law."

The matching funds from The Duke Endowment are part a larger gift announced in 2008. The Duke Endowment committed $40 million to support a Strategic Faculty Initiative ( by endowing and helping to fund more than 30 new faculty positions across the university. Russell M. Robinson II, chairman of the Endowment's board, said The Duke Endowment is proud of its longstanding partnership with Duke Law School. "In his indenture, James B. Duke specifically directed support for the school, and that legacy continues today. With the Ichels, we're excited about creating new opportunities for students and legal scholars."

Ichel is a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City, where he focuses on a wide range of complex commercial litigation. In addition to his law degree, Ichel graduated summa cum laude in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in political science from Duke.

Prior to being named chair of the Law School's Board of Visitors in 2009, Ichel previously served as a co-chair of the Law School's Building Campaign Committee and as a member of reunion committees, and the Law Alumni Association Board of Directors. He also is a past chair of the New York Metropolitan Duke Law School Alumni Association. "Our interest in this particular gift was sparked by Dean Levi, who made the point that if Duke alumni and friends can fund a number of new professorships, we can help bring the Duke Law School to an even greater level of excellence," Ichel said. "We decided on constitutional law and government because they are the foundations of our law and organized society, and I really enjoyed studying those subjects as a student. "Duke has always been strong in these areas," he added. "Even in my corporate commercial litigation practice, it continually amazes me just how often my cases present constitutional law issues. I received a great foundation as a lawyer from the strength of the teaching on constitutional law at Duke and still today consult Duke law professors on these subjects." The Ichels previously funded a named scholarship and a seminar room as part of the law school's building expansion and renovation effort that was completed in 2008. Ichel also joined with his fellow alumni partners at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett to establish the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett professorship that was awarded to Professor Richard L. Schmalbeck in April 2009.

Duke Law School is home to a number of research centers that explore constitutional questions, including the Program in Public Law; the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security; the Center on Law, Race, and Politics; and the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility. The Law School's Duke in Washington program provides an opportunity for intensive study and work in government. See for more information on Duke Law's constitutional law faculty and programs.