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Duke Alumni Association
614 Chapel Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0572
Distinguished Alumni Award
Duke Alumni Association's highest honor
The Duke Alumni Association Board of Directors established this, our highest honor, in 1983, determined to award it with great care to alumni who have distinguished themselves in service to their fields of endeavor, to Duke, or to humanity. To date, every recipient has committed him or herself to all three. All living graduates not employed by the university are eligible to be considered.
We invite you to nominate a fellow alum you find worthy of the award. We will hold all nominations and supporting materials for three years to give each nominee extended consideration.
To nominate a fellow alum, please fill out and submit the online nomination form.
2014 recipient: Gerald Bard Tjoflat LL.B.'57
Gerald Bard Tjoflat is the longest-serving federal appeals-court judge on the bench—a man who is respected throughout the legal community for his strong moral compass and deep knowledge of the law.
After serving as an editor on the Duke Law Journal and as a private practice attorney in Florida, Tjoflat was appointed to his first judicial role in 1968. He was appointed to the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 1975 and reassigned to the 11th Circuit when it was established in 1981. He served as chief justice from 1989 to 1996.
Tjoflat is a founding member of the Duke Law School Board of Visitors, and his vision was instrumental in shaping the school’s guiding principles. He played a significant role in establishing the school’s Master’s of Judicial Studies Program, in which judges learn specialized analytical skills and research approaches.
Tjoflat’s most significant contribution, however, may be to the educations and career horizons of Duke law students. He has hired and placed more than 65 Duke students and alumni in his chambers and has helped countless others find judicial clerkships. As one former student described in a letter to former Dean Katharine Bartlett: “Even if I received no other benefit from my Duke education, my relationship with Judge Tjoflat would have made it all worthwhile.”
Other Distinguished Alumni Award honorees