A. Leo Levin, Law School

A. Leo Levin, L’42, Leon Meltzer Professor Emeritus at Penn, died on November 24. He was 96 years old.

Mr. Levin received his BA from Yeshiva University in 1939 and his JD from Penn Law in 1942. He began his career at Penn Law as an assistant professor of law in 1949, and he became a full professor in 1953. In 1957, he introduced the course Trial of an Issue of Fact and held class seminars in his home (Almanac November 14, 2000).

Mr. Levin served as chair of the University Senate and vice-chair of the University Council, then was named vice provost for student affairs in 1965 (Almanac September 1965). In 1968, he resigned as vice provost to teach full-time in the Law School (Almanac April 1968). He was vice president for academic affairs at Yeshiva University from 1969 to 1970. From 1974 to 1975, he served as executive director of the Commission on Revision of the Federal Appellate System (Almanac September 17, 1974).

In 1977, Mr. Levin was appointed director of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington. He was the first non-judge to hold this post in the Center’s history (Almanac April 12, 1977). In 1983, he served as the judicial inquiry officer (JIO) for the court-ordered rehearing of the case for the withdrawal of recognition for Penn’s chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity (Almanac December 20, 1983); he decided the chapter would be suspended for six months and that no person who was a member or officer at the time of the incident would serve as an officer going forward (Almanac February 14, 1984). In 1987, Mr. Levin left the directorship of the Federal Judicial Center to return to Penn full-time as the first incumbent of the newly established Leon Meltzer Chair in the Law School (Almanac June 2, 1987).

In 1960, he received an honorary LLD degree from Yeshiva University. He was national president of the Order of the Coif, an honorary legal society, from 1967 to 1979. In 1979, he was named a Fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences (Almanac June 14, 1979).

He received emeritus status in 1989. On the occasion of his retirement, Mr. Levin drew praise from the highest precincts of the law. In recognition of his service to the federal courts, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote of his commitment to the judiciary, noting that he “made the FJC prosper during a period in which budgetary cutbacks were combined with the expansion of the judicial system.”

He later served on the Planning Committee of the Claims Commission charged with making recommendations concerning the proper disposition of hundreds of millions of dollars being paid, both as restitution and reparations, to survivors of the Holocaust. The A. Leo Levin Award for Excellence in an Introductory Course was established in 2002 and is presented annually to a faculty member at Penn Law.

Mr. Levin was a mentor to many. One of his esteemed colleagues at Penn Law, Stephen B. Burbank, captured his essence when he wrote: “…the greatest gift Leo bestows on those fortunate enough to know him: friendship. The life of the scholar can be a lonely life, and young scholars in particular sometimes need the support of a friend more than they do the criticism, even the constructive criticism, of a master. In providing such support, Leo has shown himself a master in life as he is in teaching and scholarship. His is a fountain of love as it is of new ideas, and in his well of old ideas reposes the wisdom of the ages.”

Mr. Levin is survived by his wife, Doris; his sons, Allan and Jay, and their wives; three grandchildren and three great-grandsons.

Donations in his memory may be made to the University of Pennsylvania Law School, 3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, or the Lower Merion Synagogue, 123 Old Lancaster Road, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004.