Professor of Law 1930-1934, Dean of the Law School 1934-1947
H. Claude Horack was appointed to the faculty of Duke Law by Dean Justin Miller in 1930, and was made Dean of the law school by university president William P. Few when Miller took a leave of absence in 1934. Horack remained dean until 1947.
During Horack’s tenure as Dean several new members were added to the faculty, including in 1937 Elvin R. (“Jack”) Latty who would later serve as Dean himself. In 1936 the first Duke Law graduate to become faculty was hired, Paul H. Sanders ’34.
One of Duke Law’s most well-known graduates was a student while Horack was Dean. California native Richard Nixon was attracted to Duke Law because the school offered tuition scholarships worth $250 a year at a time when tuition was $100 a semester.
Dean Horack made a major contribution to the lore of the law school. During the 1930’s Duke University didn’t offer much housing on campus for graduate or professional students, and finding a place to live in the area while attending school was problematic. In 1938 Horack convinced the university administration to build a group of log cabins for use as dormitories on the northern edge of West Campus. These were no pioneer shacks but had electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heat. The cabins drew national publicity, even appearing in newsreels at the time, and many today find them the most interesting twist of the law school’s history.
During World War II enrollment at law schools nationwide plummeted as young men were drafted into military service. Duke Law’s enrollment fell from 123 in 1939 to 36 in 1943 and 31 in 1944. Wake Forest College’s School of Law moved to Duke in 1943 and the two schools operated in a combined effort until the end of the war. The return of peace brought additional challenges. Enrollment soared again but several members of Duke Law’s faculty retired or left for other opportunities. Dean Horack found himself in a situation where suddenly students were abundant again but the faculty were reduced.
Horack was born in 1877 and completed a Bachelor of Philosophy degree at the State University of Iowa in 1899. He obtained Bachelor of Laws degrees at the State University of Iowa and Harvard in 1900 and 1904 respectively. Horack taught at the University of Wisconsin, the State University of Iowa, and the University of Southern California before coming to Duke. He served as the first full-time advisor to the Council of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association from 1927-30. Horack was Secretary of the Association of American Law Schools from 1926-28 and President in 1929. He retired as Dean of Duke Law in 1947 and held Emeritus status from 1948 until his death in 1958.
Duke University, School of Law, Bulletin of Duke University School of Law [serial]
Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part I)[https://perma.cc/K4QM-XH3A], vol. LXVI, no. 3, July 1989 North Carolina History Review 321
Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part II)[https://perma.cc/V2QP-KHR2], vol. LXVI, no. 4, October 1989 North Carolina History Review 443
Robert F. Durden, The Launching of Duke University, 1924-1949 (1993)