Levi, Edward H. (Edward Hirsch), 1911-2000

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1911-06-26
Death 2000-03-07
English

Biographical notes:

Educator, administrator, lawyer and U.S. Attorney General. Born 1911. PhB, University of Chicago, 1932, JD, University of Chicago Law School, 1935, JSD, Yale University, 1938. Professor, University of Chicago, 1936-1984. Dean, University of Chicago Law School, 1949-1962. Provost, University of Chicago, 1962-1968; President, 1968-1974. U.S. Attorney General, 1974-1977. President, American Academy of Arts and Science, 1986-1988. Died 2000.

From the description of Papers, 1894-1998 (inclusive), 1936-1992 (bulk). (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 79706870

Edward H. Levi (1911-2000) received a PhB in English from the University of Chicago in 1932 and a J.D. from its Law School in 1935. He first joined the University of Chicago Law School faculty as Assistant Professor in 1936 and remained on the faculty until his retirement in 1984. Levi became dean of the law school in 1949. In 1962, Levi entered University administration in the newly-created position of Provost. His term as Provost coincided with the Presidency of George Beadle; he is generally agreed to have had a major role in University leadership during those years.

In 1968, Levi succeeded the retiring George Beadle, becoming the first Jewish president of a major American university. As University of Chicago President, Levi became a nationally recognized authority on higher education. He wrote and spoke often on the subject and served on President Nixon's Task Force on Higher Education. He also continued efforts to bring vigor and stability to the University and the surrounding community. Major building projects were begun or continued under President Levi, including Regenstein Library and new laboratories and teaching facilities for medicine and the sciences.

Levi's administration gained national attention for its response to student protests, particularly the February, 1969 student occupation of the administration building in response to the denial of tenure to professor Marlene Dixon. Levi and his administration and staff moved their work offsite for the two-week duration of the protests. Many protesters were then expelled or suspended. The measured nature of Levi's initial response, the reliance on university rules and disciplinary bodies and the severity of the punishments were the subject of widespread comment.

In 1975, Levi left Chicago to become Attorney General of the United States in the new administration of Gerald Ford. Upon leaving the Justice Department in early 1977, Levi completed a Chubb fellowship at Yale and the Phleger Professorship at Stanford University. He then returned to the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he taught, in both the College and the Law School, until his retirement in 1984. In 1986, Levi was named to a two-year term as President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He remained active in the Academy and many other organizations until the early 1990s.

Levi married Kate Sulzberger in 1946. They had three sons, John, David and Michael. Edward H. Levi died in Chicago on March 7, 2000.

From the guide to the Levi, Edward H. Inauguration. Records, 1967-1968, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Edward H. Levi (1911-2000) received his entire education within the University of Chicago system. As a boy, he attended the Laboratory School, before enrolling in the College and the Law School. Upon earning his law degree in 1935, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Law School. Throughout the 1940s, Levi worked in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Justice Department, specializing in antitrust law and atomic energy control.

In 1950, Robert Maynard Hutchins named Levi to the Deanship of the University of Chicago Law School. During his tenure, he greatly increased the program’s stature, raising funds to build a new law campus south of the Midway and hiring several prominent new faculty members. When George W. Beadle became President of the University in 1961, he named Levi as Provost. In this role, Levi oversaw expansion and development in curriculum, facilities, and divisional organization.

Levi succeeded Beadle as President of the University in 1968, taking office in a politically-charged atmosphere immediately following the student riots that accompanied the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Throughout the many protests staged during his tenure, including a two-week student occupation of the Administration Building, Levi maintained that the University’s primary commitment should remain the pursuit of knowledge and dedication to reason. He wrote, "While its faculty and students will individually respond to a variety of political and social commitments, the purpose of the University continues to be intellectual, not moral."

Under Levi’s leadership, the University’s undergraduate curriculum underwent significant changes. The College was divided into four Collegiate Divisions, which were affiliated with the four Graduate Divisions. Additionally, the University added a fifth, interdisciplinary New Collegiate Division. The Levi administration also facilitated the rearrangement of general education courses into a "common year" of requirements for incoming students and a second year of advanced general courses to be completed later. These requirements became the basis for the College’s celebrated "Common Core," allowing for both a broad general education and disciplinary specialization for all undergraduates.

During Levi’s tenure, the University also completed the Joseph Regenstein Library. Although fundraising for the building was primarily completed by the Beadle administration, Levi oversaw the construction of the building from groundbreaking in 1968 to its dedication in 1970. At the cornerstone-laying ceremony in 1968, Levi said, "I cannot imagine an event in the history of The University of Chicago which is more important than this one. Few events can be more symbolically important for our society. We live in a time which needs to find itself. It cannot find itself unless it looks back to the roots of its history, its culture, its tradition. It is this library which will represent and make available that culture and that tradition."

After the Watergate scandal, Levi was appointed United States Attorney General by President Gerald Ford. After earning Senate confirmation, Levi resigned as President of the University in 1975. As Attorney General, he imposed significant limits on the power of the FBI to use secret evidence-gathering techniques. He also lobbied President Ford to appoint John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1977, Levi returned to the University as a Professor of Law, and he remained active as a lecturer through the 1980s. He was also named President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Levi died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2000.

From the guide to the University of Chicago. Office of the President. Levi Administration. Records, 1918-1975, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Edward Hirsch Levi was born on June 26, 1911 in Chicago, Illinois, to Gerson Levi and Elsa Hirsch. Levi's lifelong affiliation with the University of Chicago began with his enrollment as a kindergartener in the University's Laboratory Schools, from which he graduated in 1928. He went on to receive a PhB in English from the University in 1932 and a J.D. from its Law School in 1935.

Levi left Chicago briefly for Yale University, where he was named a Sterling Fellow in 1935 and received a J.S.D. in 1938. He first joined the University of Chicago Law School faculty as Assistant Professor in 1936, teaching and performing duties in the Law Library.

Levi's election of a career in the law was a break with longstanding Levi and Hirsch family traditions of rabbinical service. His father was rabbi of Chicago's Temple Israel; among his maternal ancestors were grandfather Emil Gustave Hirsch and great-grandfather David Einhorn, both major leaders of American Reform Judaism. Hirsch was an associate of William Rainey Harper and a member of the early University of Chicago faculty.

The Second World War again drew Levi away from Chicago. From 1940 to 1945, he served in the U. S. Department of Justice, first joining the Antitrust Division as Special Assistant to Attorney General Francis Biddle. He headed the Consent Decree Section and later the Economic Warfare Section in the newly-created War Division. In the latter position, he led research into German industry for the development of strategic bombing plans. In March, 1944, Levi was appointed First Assistant to Wendell Berge, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division. Levi left Washington in the fall of 1945, but continued his public service in the following years, serving as an Advisor to the Federation of Atomic Scientists in 1945 and as Counsel to the Subcommittee on Monopoly Power of the U. S. House Judiciary Committee in 1950. He had been admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court while at the Justice Department, and argued the Frankfort Distilleries price-fixing case in 1945. After returning to Chicago, he was appointed by the Court to represent indigent Illinois petitioners in two habeas corpus cases.

Upon his return to Chicago, Levi was named Professor of Law. He taught courses in both his specialties of antitrust and commercial law and in basic jurisprudence. Levi first taught "Elements of the Law" to first year law students in 1939. He offered the course regularly, with continued refinements of lectures and materials, until his retirement five decades later. In the 1950s and 1960s, Levi and economist Aaron Director taught the "Law of Competition and Monopoly," a course that was innovative in its linkage of law and economics and representative of Levi's interest in interdisciplinary studies for legal education.

In 1949, Levi was named dean of the University of Chicago Law School. His administration was devoted to the academic and physical growth of the school. Among the faculty joining the Law School under Levi were Soia Mentschikoff, Karl Llewellyn, Nicholas Katzenbach and Allison Dunham. The student body also became larger and academically stronger in the 1950s.

Dean Levi strongly supported legal research and scholarship. The Journal of Law and Economics and the Supreme Court Review were both founded at the Law School during his tenure. He supported, and later defended before a congressional committee, Harry Kalven and Hans Zeisel's pioneering but controversial research on jury deliberations. He wrote and spoke, for both local and national audiences, on the nature and challenges of legal education and worked with the American Bar Association and American Law Foundation, both based in Hyde Park, in close proximity to the Law School. Levi's deanship also saw the opening of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, one of the nation's first, in 1957. Levi's most widely recognized achievement as Dean was probably the successful campaign to fund and build a new home for the Law School, the Laird Bell Law Quadrangle, designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1959.

In 1962, Levi entered University administration in the newly-created position of Provost. His term as Provost coincided with the Presidency of George Beadle; he is generally agreed to have had a major role in University leadership during those years. Among the many challenges facing the Beadle administration was the need to maintain the quality of University faculty and facilities in the face of local urban decay and competition from other institutions. One response was a major fundraising campaign in which Levi played a central role. From 1964 to 1965, Levi also served as acting dean of the undergraduate college. He was largely responsible for implementation of the five Collegiate Divisions and the Common Core program.

In 1968, Levi succeeded the retiring George Beadle, becoming the first Jewish president of a major American university. As University of Chicago President, Levi became a nationally recognized authority on higher education. He wrote and spoke often on the subject and served on President Nixon's Task Force on Higher Education. He also continued efforts to bring vigor and stability to the University and the surrounding community. Major building projects were begun or continued under President Levi, including Regenstein Library and new laboratories and teaching facilities for medicine and the sciences.

Levi's administration gained national attention for its response to student protests, particularly the February, 1969 student occupation of the administration building in response to the denial of tenure to professor Marlene Dixon. Levi and his administration and staff moved their work offsite for the two-week duration of the protests. Many protesters were then expelled or suspended. The measured nature of Levi's initial response, the reliance on university rules and disciplinary bodies and the severity of the punishments were the subject of widespread comment.

In 1975, Levi left Chicago to become Attorney General of the United States in the new administration of Gerald Ford. His appointment was widely seen as a move towards restoring public confidence in the Department of Justice in the wake of the scandals of the Nixon presidency. In this regard, Levi implemented rules regarding FBI investigations of private citizens and the activities of government intelligence agents and an ethics code for government lawyers. Other issues facing the Justice Department under Levi included school busing, gun control and affirmative action.

Upon leaving the Justice Department in early 1977, Levi completed a Chubb fellowship at Yale and the Phleger Professorship at Stanford University. He then returned to the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he taught, in both the College and the Law School, until his retirement in 1984. In 1986, Levi was named to a two-year term as President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He remained active in the Academy and many other organizations until the early 1990s.

Levi married Kate Sulzberger in 1946. They had three sons, John, David and Michael. Edward H. Levi died in Chicago on March 7, 2000.

From the guide to the Levi, Edward H., Papers, 1894-1998, (Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

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Subjects:

  • Law--Study and teaching
  • Attorneys general
  • Universities and colleges--Administration

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)