Duncan Alford, Associate Dean for the Law Library and Professor of Law, passed away on Feb. 18.
Prior to joining the law school in 2007, he served as head of reference and adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Library, law librarian at Princeton University, and reference librarian at the Columbia University Law Library.
He was admitted to practice law in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia and at various times practiced corporate law, banking law, and commercial real estate law. Alford also served as consulting director of the Peking University School of Transnational Law Library, which offers a United States-style juris doctorate and a juris master in Chinese law. Before attending law school, Duncan was a business analyst with McKinsey & Company, Inc., in Atlanta.
The following remembrances were written by Duncan’s law school colleagues, who miss him greatly.
Duncan was a man of rich intellect and spirituality. He was a consummate professional
whose advice I regularly sought and whose delivery I trusted to be balanced with practical
wisdom and dapper humor. I’m proud to call him a colleague. I’m more proud to call
him a friend.
--Jan Baker, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Duncan was one of the most diligent people with whom I have ever worked. He never
over- or under-promised. He knew what he could achieve and he did it. But I most appreciated
his honesty. He never just tried to win an argument. He tried to find the best resolution
for everyone and avoided thinking his position was the only way to get there. He was
literally an institutional pillar that we will never replace.
--Derek Black, Professor of Law
Duncan was an intelligent, precise person with a sharp wit, and sharper intellect.
He was, above all, a gentleman.
--Regenia Dowling, Administrative Coordinator/Business Manager
Duncan was always phenomenally professional and hardworking – a great colleague. He
cared a great deal about the law school and the Coleman Karesh Library, but, even
more, he cared about everyone who worked for him and with him.
--Lisa Eichhorn, Director of Legal Writing and Professor of Law
Duncan was a revered leader in our law school. He was brilliant and kind. He elevated
all who worked with him, and he inspired our students to be the best they can be.
We deeply miss him, but his contributions to our school and faculty will endure for
years to come.
--William Hubbard, Dean and Professor of Law
I have a vivid memory of Duncan dancing in the street during a drive-by to celebrate
a colleague. Because of Covid, we could not gather, but I watched with delight as
Duncan danced with joy to express his happiness for her accomplishments. This memory
of Duncan has always made me smile; it captures him in an unguarded moment, rejoicing
with friends. Today, this memory brings me comfort.
--Susan Kuo, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
I will miss Duncan’s sense of humor and whimsy. He was a serious scholar and a talented
administrator, but he had a lighthearted side. He came to work last Halloween dressed
as Mario. He brought his Grogu toy to work and took pictures with it. He wore seasonal
ties and suspenders on holidays. He occasionally brought gadgets to work and entertained
us with them, like the drone he flew around the courtyard or the little remote-controlled
robot that followed him around like a dog. I took those things for granted until now.
--Rebekah Maxwell, Associate Director for Library Operations
Duncan was a fine administrator, hired excellent people, and had vision for where
we want to go. He was good with people, easy to work with, and always focused on improving
service. He will be missed and a tough act to follow.
--John Montgomery, Dean Emeritus
I will always remember Duncan as a terrific colleague, as well as for his professionalism,
his commitment to the School of Law, his dedication to his students and to the legal
community. I always enjoyed the projects we worked on together, especially the move
from the old building to the new building. Finally, Duncan had a terrific, sly sense
of humor which often brought a joyful moment to meetings. He will be sorely missed.
--Gary Moore, Assistant Dean for Academic Technology
Duncan set an example of work-life balance. He encouraged the librarians to meet high
standards in our work, and to take relaxing and restorative time off, as he did, often
bringing back treats to share from his travels. In moments of playfulness, and to
provide content for the law library’s social media, he even brought his drone and
Star Wars related toys to work. He will not be forgotten.
--Eve Ross, Reference Librarian
Duncan made an impact in everything he did. Even as he managed an immense administrative
load in leading the Law School Library, he continued to conduct research domestically
as well as in Nigeria and in China that will have lasting effects for decades to come.
I am honored for him to have been my colleague for more than a decade but even more
fortunate to have had Duncan as a friend for just as long.
--Joel Samuels, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Duncan would regularly reach out to personally share articles and reports and links
and resources that were perfectly tailored to my areas of research. It was clear that
he cared about people, knowledge, and connections between the two. He also cared about
our law school and its future. Indeed, the planning documents he prepared for our
school and for our library were so thorough that I was relieved to finally catch a
small typo in one and thereby show I had read it!
--Bryant Walker Smith, Associate Professor of Law
Duncan made everyone around him better off. He put the person first and policy second.
I’ll never forget disagreeing with him on some seemingly unimportant matter in a meeting.
Afterward, I asked him privately if my disagreement had been offensive. He looked
straight at me, smiled, and started to laugh: it would take much more than a policy
disagreement to upset him, he assured me. Duncan was always supportive, professional,
and kind. I always felt welcomed and appreciated by him.
--Ned Snow, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Scholarship
Duncan was one of the best – directors, bosses, mentors, friends, and human beings.
I will forever be grateful for his wisdom, kindness, patience, advice, flexibility,
humor, tenacity, and dedication to those and for that he held dear. He gave me support
and encouragement to grow professionally and taught me so very much. He is and will
be greatly missed.
--Candle Wester, Associate Director for Faculty Services and Administration
Duncan’s hand in the design and construction of the new law school was as important
as anyone’s. His attention to future needs and to design detail was invaluable. Duncan
was proud of that accomplishment, but he never failed to put first the people in the
building. Duncan held everyone to high standards. But what I remember best is that,
when an issue arose with a member of his staff or with a faculty colleague, Duncan
never lost faith in that person. Instead of giving up, he worked harder with those
whose performance gave him concern. More often than not, his efforts succeeded.
--Rob Wilcox, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law
Whenever I crossed paths with Duncan, he always found a way to identify our mutual
interests and start up a great conversation. I enjoyed our chats about topics from
Charlotte to Shenzhen on my walks to the parking lot with Duncan.
--Emily Winston, Assistant Professor of Law