A $5 million gift from Stanley and Elizabeth Star to the Duke Law School aims to inspire additional contributions from the school's alumni and friends, law school Dean David F. Levi announced Friday. This is the latest in a line of gifts to Duke Law from the Stars in support of faculty and student scholarships, law school programs, infrastructure and other initiatives. Stanley Star is a member of the law school's class of 1961.
"Stanley Star is one of the great business entrepreneurs of his generation," Levi said. "By designating this gift as a challenge to others, he and Elizabeth are demonstrating that same creativity and leadership, but this time in the area of philanthropy.
"Just as their gift to create the Star Commons transformed our physical plant, this gift has the potential to elevate the academic life of our community by supporting and extending the work of our faculty and the opportunities we provide to students. It is a gift that will have a lasting, substantive impact on the Law School. We are grateful for this and all that Stan and Elizabeth do to support Duke Law."
Stanley Star is the former principal of Cliffstar Corp., which began as his family's 19th century Dunkirk, N.Y., winery. Under his leadership, the company became one of the country's leading private-label juice manufacturers.
Star is a member of the law school's Board of Visitors, and he previously served as co-chair of the law school's Building Campaign Committee.
The Stars recently contributed funds to help launch the school's Law and Entrepreneurship LLM program, which welcomed its inaugural class in August 2010. Star explained at the time that the couple's support was based in part on an appreciation for the program's hands-on approach to training students in areas related to his professional work.
The couple's $3 million pledge in 2004 allowed for the construction of the Star Commons, which has become a favorite gathering spot for study, socializing and special events at the law school.
Previous gifts by the Stars have funded the Stanley A. Star Professorship of Law and Business, and the Star Scholarship, which provides financial support to students. The couple has hosted multiple Duke Law events in their Naples, Fla., home and has deep connections with the university. In addition to Stanley Star's time at Duke Law, two of the Stars' children have Duke undergraduate degrees, and their son-in-law graduated from the Fuqua School of Business.
"Stanley has always been a leader, and as such he wants to encourage others to join with him to take Duke Law School to the next level," said Duke University Trustee Peter Kahn '76. "This challenge gift is a great way to do that. It can and should serve as a catalyst for giving among alumni and friends of the Law School who want to give back to the next generation of students in appreciation for what the school has done for them.
"The Stars' gift inspired (my wife) Debbie and me to join the effort, and we hope others will likewise feel that same sense of excitement about how great this law school can be if we all come together to support it."