Legal Studies Program at the University of Delaware
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History of Legal Studies Program at UD

In the early 1970s, the University considered the possibility of starting a medical school.  Consideration was also given to starting a law school.  Neither effort panned out.  The origins of the Legal Studies program can be traced back to the efforts of group of interested faculty who met in 1987 to discuss the possibility of starting a Legal Studies program.  This group included James Magee and Leslie Goldstein of Political Science and Valerie Hans and Frank Scarpeti of Sociology.  The next spring, a task force was charged by President Russel C. Jones to investigate their proposal.  Professor Gerard Mangone of the College of Marine Studies chaired the task force, which included two faculty members (Ken Haas of Sociology and James Magee of Political Science) who are still involved in the Legal Studies program.  In lieu of a law school, the undergraduate legal studies program was started in 1989.  The initial faculty who participated included Gerald Turkel of Sociology and Sue Davis of Political Science.  At first, this was mostly a forum for faculty interested in law-related subjects to meet and share discussions.  In 1991, Legal Studies became an undergraduate minor.  Over the years, it has grown enormously.  Today, there are over 150 students with a minor in legal studies.

The first director of the Legal Studies Program was Jack Carter of the College of Business & Economics (now at Goucher College).  Juliet Dee, associate professor in the Communication Department, served as Director from 1996 to 1998.  Valerie Hans of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, now at Cornell Law School, assumed directorship of the Legal Studies Program in the fall of 1998 and served for two years.  Thereafter, Professor Kenneth J. Koford served as director from 1999 to 2004.  The current director is Professor Sheldon D. Pollack of the Lerner College of Business and Economics.

In April 1998, the Legal Studies Program held its first Annual Student Research Day.  This evolved into the Student Paper Conference.  The tradition will continue this year, with an interesting program planned.

In Spring 2005, Legal Studies began the Koford Lecture series.  This new lecture series is named in honor of our long-time friend and former Director of Legal Studies, the late Kenneth J. Koford.  The lecture series is co-sponsored by the Department of Economics in the Lerner College of Business & Economics.  The First Annual Koford lecture was given by Prof. Jeffrey Rosen of the George Washington Law School.  The guest speaker for 2006 was Prof. Eric Posner of the University of Chicago Law School.  Our guest speaker for the Third Annual Koford lecture in March 2007 was Sam Peltzman, the Ralph and Dorothy Keller Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago.

In April 2007, Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, visited the University of Delaware and delivered a lecture on constitutional interpretation.  The event was sponsored by the Legal Studies Program.

In Spring of 1999, the Legal Studies Program offered for the first time a one-credit pass/fail lecture series and course called "The Law and You." The popular course meets for an hour each Friday at noon to hear Delaware attorneys and other speakers talk about legal issues of relevance to students and the University community.


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