The dean of Duke Law School will soon have a named chair for the position, thanks to a $5 million grant from The Duke Endowment.

According to an announcement from President Vincent Price on Monday, the grant will establish the title of the James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean of the School of Law. Current Dean David Levi—who is stepping down in June 2018—will be the first person to hold this position. 

“The gift is meaningful to me because the Duke family has been such a positive influence on the University since its inception. What people may not know is how the Duke family has continued to be very supportive of the University in many different ways,” Levi said. “This gift is an expression of [The Duke Endowment’s] support of the University and the Law School.”

Serving as dean since 2007, Levi has witnessed multiple acts of philanthropy from members of The Duke Endowment and the Duke family. Mentioning descendants of the Duke brothers whom the dean’s chair is named after, Levi remembered the philanthropic work of Mary Semans­–granddaughter of Benjamin Newton Duke–and added that he “admires greatly” current board members of The Endowment, including Charles Lucas III. Lucas, Law ’90, is also a grandson of Semans and a Duke Law School graduate­. 

“The faculty and alumni are very pleased with this [grant]. It is a mark of distinction to hold a chair with the Duke family name in it,” Levi said.

He concurred that the timing of The Duke Endowment’s grant was significant, as he will be stepping down from his position as dean on June 30. As it has been “several months since the beginning of the academic year” when he first made the announcement, Levi said that it was a “lovely gesture” for The Duke Endowment to establish the chair in a way that allowed him to hold it for his final semester as dean.

In the search for the next law school dean, Levi added that the named chair has become “a part of the recruiting package.” Both the significance of the addition of the new chair and its $5 million of funding for the position serve as an “indicator of support” from the University and The Duke Endowment–which is of special importance to those interested in becoming the School of Law’s 15th dean.

“On a personal level, it is very meaningful to me," Levi said. "Future deans will hold this chair, and the $5 million grant will provide them with the funding and flexibility to be innovative."