Duke Law School received a gift of $5.46 million from alumnus Rick Horvitz, Law School ’78, to permanently sustain the endowment of its nationally-acclaimed Program in Public Law in May.
As one of the nation’s preeminent centers for constitutional and public law, the program boasts an array of distinguished faculty members and students. For decades, the program has shuttled top scholars into Duke Law’s classrooms, engaged students with compelling primary-source material and equipped them with internship and career-enhancing opportunities.
The program was recently renamed the Richard A. Horvitz Program in Constitutional and Public Law, after the family that has spearheaded the program’s activities since 1998.
Pamela B. Gann, a former dean of Duke Law School, was instrumental in Horvitz’s decision to support the program. With encouragement from Gann and a passion for constitutional law studies, he began donating to the program at the turn of the century. Horvitz has also worked closely with two other previous deans, Katharine T. Bartlett, A. Kenneth Pye professor emerita of law, and David F. Levi, Levi Family research professor of law, to launch the program.
Since 1998, the Horvitz have donated more than $10.4 million to the Program in Public Law and more than $15 million to the Law School more broadly, per the release.
“I'm not a practicing lawyer, but I've always thought constitutional law was one of the hallmarks of U.S. society,” Horvitz said.
Under Horvitz’s charge, the program has hosted Supreme Court justices to discuss their careers with students, covered the costs of room and board for students working unpaid summer internships and sent four faculty members to serve on the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court in 2021.
One of Horvitz’s primary goals in endowing the program is to ensure that Duke Law remains a frontrunner amongst other institutions, particularly in its teaching of constitutional and public law.
Since the program’s inception, Horvitz has sought to uphold four principal pillars of his mission: to attract and support exceptional faculty members of students, to promote and foster “excellence in legal scholarship,” to provide engaging educational conferences and programs for students and to impress upon students the pivotal role of public law in the U.S.’s contemporary system of government.
When he was a student, Horvtiz’s courses in first amendment law left a powerful impression on him. He started his career at a law firm which specialized in first amendment cases, and now serves as the chairman of the private investment firm Moreland Management Co.
“I really appreciated, in particular, constitutional law, because to some degree, while a lot of law school involves a type of vocational schooling, constitutional law is really more of an… aspirational thing than kind of a vocational thing, and I just always found it fascinating,” Horvitz said.
Horvitz will be actively tracking the progress of the program, soliciting periodic administrative reports on its operations and spending and is open to the prospect of increasing its funding sources if necessary. He hopes the program will serve as a model of “robust critical inquiry.”
“We're very much committed to this program because of the principles of free expression and the idea that we can be lifelong learners and modify our opinions as new information comes into our world,” he said.
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Halle Friedman is a Trinity junior and an associate news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.