In Memorium: Duncan Alford


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