will do my best for this instituion which I love." With
those words, Edward Hirsch Levi, PhB'32, JD'35,
accepted the presidency of the University of Chicago in September
1967. The University's eighth--and first alumnus--president
died March 7 at age 88.
a different lifetime
centered on Chicago quads, Edward Levi made his mark: as bow-tied
intellectual and administrator.
the entering College class in October 1972, Edward Hirsch Levi,
PhB'32, JD'35, paraphrased a famous remark made by Robert Maynard
Hutchins, Chicago's president when Levi himself was an undergraduate.
"He said it really is not a very good university," Levi told the
assembled first-years, "but it happens to be the best." He paused.
"Sometimes I think it is the only university."
Levi spent more than 50 years in the service of the only University--including
terms as a professor in the Law School and the College, as dean
of the Law School, as Chicago's first provost, and as president.
President emeritus of the University, the Glen A. Lloyd distinguished
service professor emeritus in the Law School and the College,
and a University life trustee, Levi died in Hyde Park on March
7, after six years of suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He was
the national stage, Levi was best known as President Gerald Ford's
choice for U.S. attorney general, a position he assumed in 1975,
after the credibility of the Justice Department had been eroded
by the Watergate scandal. Ford called Levi a "superb" attorney
general. "When I assumed the presidency in August 1974, it was
essential that a new attorney general be appointed who would restore
integrity and competence to the Department of Justice" in the
wake of Watergate and the war in Vietnam. Levi, said Ford, "was
a perfect choice."
Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was a senior official under
Levi in the Justice Department, seconded Ford's assessment, telling
the New York Times that in Levi's two years as the nation's 71st
attorney general, he "brought the department through its worst
years....He brought two qualities to the job, a rare intellectuality
and a level of integrity such as there could never be any doubt
about his honesty, forthrightness, or truthfulness."
by politicians of all persuasions as an exemplary attorney general,
Levi exhibited the characteristics that were--along with his ever-present
and sometimes slightly askew bow tie--hallmarks of his career
on the quads: force of personality, keen intellect, and unwavering
at the Laboratory Schools, the College, and the Law School, he
breathed deep the air that Robert Maynard Hutchins described as
'electric,'" said President Hugo F. Sonnenschein, at whose 1993
inaugural festivities Levi was an honored guest, "and the University's
sensibilities helped to shape the man he became."
institution did much to mold the pattern of Levi's life, but Levi
did much to shape the life of the institution. "Our University
bears the stamp of Edward Levi's accomplishments and of his character,"
said former U of C president Hanna Holborn Gray, who now teaches
history at Chicago, "and it will be measured always by the high
standards and demanding ideals that he insistently, and unforgettably,
placed before us."
legal scholar whose Introduction to Legal Reasoning (University
of Chicago Press, 1949) remains a classic, Levi was also famed
for his teaching ability, blending clarity, wit, innovation, and
intellect. As dean of the Law School in the 1950s, he led the
school's physical and intellectual advances, building the Laird
Bell Quadrangle and fostering a merging of law and other disciplines,
including the influential law and economics movement. As provost
(1962-68), he spent several years as acting dean of the undergraduate
College, reorganizing it into five divisions with a Common Core
program for the first two years. He also played a key role in
what was at that time the largest fund-raising endeavor of any