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Law school mourns Professor Louis Del Duca

The Dickinson School of Law community is mourning the loss of dear friend and revered faculty member Louis F. Del Duca, professor emeritus of law.
Professor Louis Del Duca

The Dickinson School of Law community is mourning the loss of dear friend and revered faculty member Louis F. Del Duca, professor emeritus of law, who died on Nov. 27 in Washington, D.C., at age 89. A service for Del Duca will be held on Saturday, December 12 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church on Marsh Drive in Carlisle, Pa.  

Del Duca retired from teaching in 2013 after a half-century career in the field of international legal education. He is the longest-serving faculty member in The Dickinson School of Law’s history, having joined the faculty and administration in 1956.  

“Professor Del Duca’s dedication to the students he taught and the advancement of legal education was unwavering over his nearly 60 years at The Dickinson School of Law,” said James W. Houck, interim dean of Penn State Law. “His legacy will live on in the generations of students who benefited from his teaching, foresight, and advocacy.”

Del Duca was internationally recognized as a leading scholar in the fields of commercial and comparative law, and as a leader in the internationalization of American legal education. A member of the American Law Institute and the U.S. Secretary of State’s Committee on International Trade Law, Professor Del Duca also served as president of the International Academy of Commercial and Consumer Law and was the United States’ collaborator to the Rome International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT).

A gifted flutist since age 6, Del Duca was awarded scholarships to Temple University and the Curtis Institute of Music and studied at both institutions. After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II, the development of the United Nations and the possibility of working through the law to prevent future world wars inspired Del Duca to pursue a career in law. He completed his undergraduate degree at Temple University and then attended Harvard Law School where he earned his J.D. Following graduation, Del Duca studied comparative and international law as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Rome Sapienza Law School and received the Italian equivalent of a J.D. degree. He returned to Philadelphia and joined the Montgomery McCracken law firm as well as Temple University as an adjunct professor of political science.

A pioneer in the movement among U.S. law schools to increase international educational opportunities, Del Duca founded and managed The Dickinson School of Law’s first summer study abroad program with the University of Florence, Italy, and later launched a summer program in Vienna, Austria, and Strasbourg, France. He personally recruited six members of the U.S. Supreme Court to teach in the European summer programs.

In his decades of service to The Dickinson School of Law and to Penn State, Del Duca paved the way for a global trend in international legal education by establishing The Dickinson School of Law’s master of comparative law (M.C.L.) degree program for foreign-trained attorneys. The program has grown significantly over the years and now awards a master of laws (LL.M.) degree. 

In addition to his long service as professor of law, Del Duca served as The Dickinson School of Law’s director of admissions, associate dean of advanced legal education, associate dean for international and comparative law programs, and director of the Center for International and Comparative Law. He was the Edward N. Polisher Distinguished Faculty Scholar, was named the first A. Robert Noll Professor in 2000, and received the W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award in recognition of his leadership in international education at Penn State. Prior to the merger with Penn State, Del Duca received The Dickinson School of Law Honorary Alumni Award. In 2014, he received the Penn State Alumni Association Honorary Alumni Award for his visionary leadership in internationalizing American legal education and for his scholarship in commercial law. 

Del Duca served as a faculty adviser to the Dickinson Law Review, predecessor to the Penn State Law Review, and the Dickinson International Law Annual, which later became the Penn State International Law Review. The editors and staff of the Penn State Law Review dedicated the 2012-2013 issue of the Law Review to Del Duca to wish him well in his retirement.

In addition to his many contributions to The Dickinson School of Law and Penn State, Del Duca has been a valuable member of various local, state, national, and international organizations, heading committees or holding leadership roles in many. Not limiting the scope of his work to international matters, Del Duca served as editor-in-chief of the Uniform Commercial Code Law Journal since 1972, and editor of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly since 1968. He was a guest speaker at numerous national and international meetings and conferences.

His devotion to The Dickinson School of Law and its students goes beyond his commitment to teaching, scholarship, and service. In 2000, along with wife Frances ’65, Del Duca endowed the Louis F. Del Duca Scholarship to attract highly qualified applicants to The Dickinson School of Law’s J.D. and LL.M. programs. 

Known to many as “the Duke,” following his retirement Del Duca maintained an office at Dickinson Law in Carlisle while continuing his research and writing. 

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