Edward Hirsch Levi


Honorary Degree (1989)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich


Edward Hirsch Levi, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the University of Chicago, has had a distinguished career in the legal profession, university administration, and the federal government. In each area his contributions are of enduring importance. Dr. Levi received the Ph.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of Chicago in 1932 and 1935. He continued his education as a Sterling Fellow at Yale University and was awarded the J.S.D. in 1938. He began his academic career in 1936 as assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School. From 1940 to 1945 he served as first assistant to the U.S. Attorney General in the War Division and the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department.

In 1945 Dr. Levi returned to academic life as professor of law at the University of Chicago and was appointed dean of the Law School in 1950. It was clear very early that he was among the most brilliant scholars of his generation in jurisprudence and antitrust law, and one of the nation's top legal educators. An Introduction to Legal Reasoning, to name only one of his eight books and numerous other publications, is widely regarded as a landmark in jurisprudential writing. In addition, he was the principal drafter of the McMahon Atomic Energy Control Law of 1946, which provided the basis for the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission and a new approach to the domestic control of nuclear energy.

Dr. Levi was appointed provost of the University of Chicago in 1962 and became president in 1968. In these positions he contributed in significant and lasting ways to the institution's academic excellence and assured its prominence among the foremost American universities. In 1975 President Ford appointed Edward Levi Attorney General of the United States. During the two years of his tenure he handled with consummate skill the complicated and controversial issues of that office. His thoughtful and highly principled leadership during a difficult period was the dominant factor in restoring the effectiveness and public esteem of the Department of Justice.

Since leaving Washington Edward Levi has held a number of important offices: as a trustee of the MacArthur Foundation, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, among others. His constructive influence is felt in diverse areas of administration and scholarship. Dr. Levi is the recipient of 30 honorary degrees and numerous other awards, including the Legion of Honor (France), the Learned Hand Medal, and the Federal Bar Association Award. His character and intellect as teacher, scholar, philosopher, author, administrator, and public servant have inspired and benefited his students, colleagues, and countless others during a career that spans half a century.