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Record Harrison Bequest Creates New Professorships

The Law School lost a great friend with the death of David A. Harrison III '41 on June 8. Mr. Harrison passed away after a long illness at the age of 85 at Flowerdew Hundred, his beloved historic home in Hopewell, Virginia.

Ibbeken and Harrison
David Ibbeken '71 and David Harrison '41 at the dedication of the Harrison Law Grounds in 1997.

In his estate, Mr. Harrison left the Law School Foundation an extraordinary gift. Shortly after his death, Mr. Harrison's estate notified the Foundation that it would receive a bequest of more than $34.8 million. This gift is the largest ever received by the Law School Foundation and is the result of a pledge Mr. Harrison made during the recent Capital Campaign. The income from the Harrison bequest will be used, as he directed, to fund professorships. In filling these chairs, the Law School will be guided by Mr. Harrison's express directive that the occupants be persons who "not only possess an appropriate dedication to the advancement of knowledge in their respective fields, but whose foremost attribute is a demonstrated interest in and talent for the teaching of students."

According to Dean John C. Jeffries, Jr., "with the income from this bequest, we will follow Mr. Harrison's desire to reward the best teacher-scholars in American legal education by creating the David and Mary Harrison Chairs. They will set a new standard of excellence, at Virginia and across the nation. The Law School has always prided itself on the dedication of its faculty to both scholarship and teaching. This gift will elevate and continue this tradition."

Over the years, Mr. Harrison established the David A. Harrison Professorship in Law in honor of his father, the Harrison Foundation Research Professorship in Law, and a joint chair in law and medicine. Mr. Harrison also helped to support expansion and renovation of the

"What is necessary for a great legal education is dependent upon the professors—their ability, their minds, their personalities, their ingenuity, and their humanity."

At the ground-breaking ceremony for the Law Grounds project in 1995, then Law School Dean Robert E. Scott said, "the gifts that David has made to the Law School together with those he will make over the next several years and the monumental gift he has planned to provide through his estate are, collectively, an historic event in Law School philanthropy. David's gifts will further enhance the School of Law's preeminent reputation, and it is no exaggeration to say that they will markedly and permanently change the quality of the legal education we are able to provide."

Marjorie Harrison Webb said her father's generous estate provisions reflect the family's many ties to the University. "The Law School was always an important part of his life," she said. "He admired the discipline and intellectual rigor of the law, even though it was not his lifelong profession." The mother of a current UVA undergraduate student, Mrs. Webb also noted that her father "planned for the future in everything he did," including his support for the University. "That's why he was interested in endowed chairs. He considered professorships the best way to make a difference in education and to strengthen the University's ability to impart knowledge to future generations."

It was this belief that prompted Harrison to focus his generosity on faculty chairs. "What is necessary for a great legal education is dependent upon the professors—their ability, their minds, their personalities, their ingenuity, and their humanity," he once said. "It is not only my belief that we will have a better school by getting the most able professors, but that the school will be able to attract the really great scholars—people with vision, common sense, and creativity."

Mr. Harrison practiced law for many years before entering the field of investment banking. A former honorary trustee of the Law School Foundation and a member of the Capital Campaign Executive Committee, he had an affiliation with the Law School that spanned more than a century. He took great pride in the fact that five generations of his family attended the Law School, namely his grandfather, two uncles, his father, a brother, a son, and a granddaughter. His wife, the former Mary Anderson, predeceased him. Survivors include his children David A. Harrison IV '71, Marjorie Harrison Webb, Mary Harrison Keevil, George A. Harrison, and Anne Harrison Armstrong.

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