Stanley and Elizabeth Star give $5 million to Duke Law

January 7, 2011Duke Law News

Duke Law School has announced a $5 million gift from Stanley A. Star ’61 and Elizabeth Star that aims to inspire additional contributions from alumni and friends of the Law School.

The gift is the latest in a line of generous gifts to Duke Law from the Stars, including support of faculty and student scholarships as well as Law School programs and infrastructure.

“Stanley Star is one of the great business entrepreneurs of his generation,” said Dean David F. Levi. “By designating this gift as a challenge to others, he and Elizabeth are demonstrating that same creativity and leadership but this time in the area of philanthropy. Just as their gift to create the Star Commons transformed our physical plant, this gift has the potential to elevate the academic life of our community by supporting and extending the work of our faculty and the opportunities we provide to students. It is a gift that will have a lasting, substantive impact on the Law School. We are grateful for this and all that Stan and Elizabeth do to support Duke Law.”

Stanley Star is the former principal of Cliffstar Corp., which began as his family’s 19th century Dunkirk, N.Y., winery. Under his leadership, the company became one of the country’s leading private-label juice manufacturers. Star is a member of the Law School’s Board of Visitors. He previously served as co-chair of the Law School’s Building Campaign Committee.

The Stars recently contributed funds to help launch the Law and Entrepreneurship LLM program, which welcomed its inaugural class in August 2010. Star explained at the time that the couple’s support was based in part on an appreciation for the program’s hands-on approach to training students in areas related to his professional work.

The couple’s $3 million pledge in 2004 allowed for the construction of the Star Commons, a 4,200-square foot common area at the Law School that has become a favorite gathering spot for study, socializing, and special events.

Previous gifts by the Stars have funded the Stanley A. Star Professorship of Law and Business, currently held by Steven A. Schwarcz, and the Star Scholarship, which provides financial support to students. The couple has hosted multiple Duke Law events in their Naples, Fla., home and has deep connections with Duke. In addition to Stanley Star’s time at Duke Law, two of the Stars’ children have Duke undergraduate degrees, and their son-in-law graduated from the Fuqua School of Business.

“Stanley has said that he views Duke Law School and its community as part of his family. All I can say is that we are fortunate to be in Stanley and Elizabeth’s family,” said Duke Law Board of Visitors Chair David Ichel ’78. “He has now funded professorships, scholarships, academic programs, and, of course, the Law School’s most fantastic facility, the Star Commons. He is also an inspiration for everyone associated with Duke Law School to try to extend to do more for the school as Stanley has done.

“There are some people who leave a huge positive footprint on our world. Stanley is one of them,” Ichel continued. “I count myself very fortunate to call him and Elizabeth my friends.”

Duke University Trustee Peter Kahn ’76 says he and his wife, Debbie, also are “blessed” in their friendship with the Stars.

“Stanley and Elizabeth are wonderful people whose leadership and devotion to the Law School are second to none,” said Kahn.

“Stanley has always been a leader, and as such he wants to encourage others to join with him to take Duke Law School to the next level. This challenge gift is a great way to do that,” Kahn adds. “It can and should serve as a catalyst for giving among alumni and friends of the Law School who want to give back to the next generation of students in appreciation for what the School has done for them. The Stars’ gift inspired Debbie and me to join the effort, and we hope others will likewise feel that same sense of excitement about how great this Law School can be if we all come together to support it.”