A. Posner, chief judge of the federal appeals court based in Chicago
and a senior lecturer at the Law School, told the Times that Levi's
original pairing of an economist--Aaron Director--and a lawyer
was followed by a statistician and lawyer team, and then a sociology-law
match. The approach, Posner said, "was a major development, not
only in the law and economics sphere but in creating interdisciplinary
studies in general at law schools."
editor-in-chief of the Gargoyle
staff, Levi sits in front with a copy of the yearbook on his
1958, Levi founded the school's Journal of Law and Economics,
a vehicle that helped Chicago remain preeminent in the field.
He also created one of the nation's first law school-run legal-assistance
programs, now the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. As dean, Levi worked
with architect Eero Saarinen on the planning and execution of
the landmark Laird Bell Quadrangle (1959). With the attention
to detail for which he was known, Levi and his wife walked along
the Midway every evening to inspect the building's progress. Levi
moved in on schedule, even though the building wasn't completely
finished. Soon after the move, a secretary complained about the
plaster dust on her desk; that evening the dean and his wife mopped
Edward Levi was inaugurated as president at the November 14, 1968,
convocation in Rockefeller Chapel, the event was attended by three
of his predecessors: Robert Maynard Hutchins, Lawrence A. Kimpton,
and the retiring George Beadle. Levi had served under all three.
He used his inaugural address for a consideration of the institution's
primary mission, calling for a reaffirmation of "our commitment
to the way of reason, without which a University becomes a menace
and a caricature."
"custodians not only of the many cultures of man, but of the rational
process itself," Levi continued, "[u]niversities are not neutral,"
but "exist for the propagation of a special point of view; namely
the worthwhileness of the intellectual pursuit of truth.…" This
view, he added, "does not remove universities from the problems
as Levi spoke from the Rockefeller pulpit, 100 students stood
outside the chapel, protesting the war in Vietnam; other protesters
showed up outside the dinner held in his honor that night at a
downtown hotel. Two months later, the subject of student protests
centered not on national but on University policy.
January 30, 1969, students forcibly took over the Administration
Building to protest the non-renewal of a faculty member's contract.
Levi's response differed from that of many college and university
administrators in those years: rather than call in outside authorities,
he enforced the University's internal disciplinary process. When,
two weeks after it began, the sit-in ended, he issued a statement
to the campus community, making clear his bedrock values:
University has sought throughout this period, however imperfectly,
to exemplify the values for which it stands. It has encouraged
discussion through faculty and student
groups. It has sought to institutionalize a process for wider
participation. In a world of considerable violence, and one in
which violence begets violence, it has emphasized the persuasive
power of ideas. It has sought--and the unique response of faculty
and students has made this possible--to handle its own affairs
in a way consistent with its ideals."
that "[a]s I write these lines, I cannot help but wonder what
our success has been and whether the choice we made remains viable,"
Levi continued: "These consequences to the University will be
felt for a considerable period of time and will be disappointing
to many. We must make the best of them."
Levi's accomplishments were not limited to the University. In
1950, as counsel to the Subcommittee on Monopoly Power of the
United States House Judiciary Committee, he conducted hearings
on the steel and newsprint industries. During the 1960s, he served
on the White House Central Group on Domestic Affairs, the White
House Task Force on Education, and the President's Task Force
on Priorities in Higher Education.
leaving the Ford administration, he spent the 1977-78 academic
year as the Herman Pfleger visiting professor at Stanford University
Law School before returning to teach in the Law School and the
College. His research interests included jurisprudence, constitutional
law, bankruptcy and reorganization, federal procedure, antitrust
law, law and economics, and legal education. He often spoke on
higher education, and many of his speeches were collected in Point
of View: Talks on Education.
founding trustee of the MacArthur Foundation, he was a trustee
the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, the Institute of International
Education, the Institute for Psychoanalysis, the International
Legal Center, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Russell
Sage Foundation, the Urban Institute, and the Woodrow Wilson National
former chairman of the Council on Legal Education for Professional
Responsibility, Levi had been president of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences, a vice president of the American Philosophical
Society, a member of the Council of the American Law Institute,
and a fellow of the American Bar Association. Among his many other
honors were L.H.D. degrees from seven institutions, including
the University of Chicago; L.L.D. degrees from 18 institutions;
and the French government's Legion of Honor.
the best illustration of the interwoven threads of Levi's personal,
intellectual, and public life can be seen in the list of speakers
scheduled to speak at the April 6 memorial service in Rockefeller
Chapel. His brother-in-law, Bernard D. Meltzer, AB'35, JD'37,
the Edward H. Levi distinguished service professor emeritus, and
President Hugo Sonnenschein were to be joined by former U.S. President
Ford and Justice Scalia, as well as Stanford president Casper;
Washington Post publisher and University life trustee Katharine
Graham, AB'38; and Chicago Tribune publisher and U of C
trustee Jack Fuller.
It is easy to imagine a common thread running through each eulogy:
Edward Hirsch Levi was a man who believed above all in the power
of ideas. "I remember he was asked if he was going to write his
memoirs," Bard College president Leon Botstein, AB'67, a former
student of Levi's, told the Times the day after Levi's death.
"And he replied, 'If I were to write a book, it would be about
ideas, not about myself.'"