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Duke Law Names New Dean
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Summary: Duke Law named the vice provost for faculty affairs at the University of Virginia as the new dean of the school.

The vice provost for faculty affairs and a professor of law at the University of Virginia has been named as the new dean for Duke Law School. Duke University President Vincent Price and Provost Sally Kornbluth announced the new appointment of Karen L. “Kerry” Abrams on Friday.


Abrams, a leading national authority in immigration law and family law, will be a valuable addition to the law school. She succeeds David F. Levi as the James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean of the School of Law starting July 1, according to Duke Today. Levi made his announcement that he would be stepping down last June. He had led the school for the past 11 years.

Price said, “Kerry Abrams is one of the brightest stars in legal education, and I look forward to welcoming her to Duke. She is a renowned scholar, a passionate advocate for students and faculty, and a deeply engaged citizen of the university who will advance Duke Law School’s already exemplary record of leadership and service to society.”

Kornbluth added, “I am confident that Kerry will be another transformative dean for Duke Law. She understands our commitment to excellence in education, engagement and scholarship that crosses disciplinary boundaries. I look forward to welcoming Kerry and her husband Brandon Garret to the Duke community. … We are all grateful to Professor Helfer and the search committee for conducting a thorough and inclusive process, and of course to David Levi, whose leadership has set the highest standard for the future.”

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Abrams said, “I am honored to have been chosen to lead such an outstanding law school, and am grateful to President Price and Provost Kornbluth for inviting me to join the Duke family. Duke Law School’s students are extremely talented and motivated, its faculty and staff are devoted teachers, researchers and professionals, and its alumni are passionate in their devotion to the school and their contributions to the legal profession and beyond. I can’t imagine a more exciting opportunity.”

Much of the scholarly work Abrams has done includes the history of immigration law and how some courts and legislatures use cultural norms of marriage to exclude some racial groups compared to others when migrating. Her other work examines contemporary immigration and citizenship law and the ways they conflict with state family law and federal immigration and citizenship law in the definition of marriage and parentage.

Abrams was selected after a national search chaired by Professor Laurence R. Helfer. “Kerry is an excellent administrator and scholar who is very well placed to build on David Levi’s achievements,” Helfer said. “She impressed the search committee with her commitment to enhancing the law school’s excellence in research, teaching and service, and to working with our faculty, staff, students, and alumni to increase the law school’s national and international profile.”

In her position at the University of Virginia as vice provost, Abrams was in charge of faculty promotion, and the tenure process, coordinating faculty retirement and retention as well as the development of university policies for faculty and designing and delivering programs that support leadership and professional development in faculty.

Abrams husband, Brandon Garrett, will join her at Duke Law. He is a professor currently serving as the White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs and Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia. His expertise is in “criminal procedure, wrongful convictions, habeas corpus, corporate crime, scientific evidence, civil rights, civil procedure and constitutional law.”

Do you think it would be stressful to be a law school dean, share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about Duke University, read these articles:





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