March 27, 2009 - Harrogate, Tennessee—Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) announced Friday that its proposed School of Law will be named for Tennessee Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. The formal name of the school will be the Lincoln Memorial University-John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law, or Duncan School of Law for short.

“It is fitting that this program has been named for a great lawyer and civic leader who has helped so many. Our mission is to provide educational opportunities to the people of this region and Congressman Duncan has been serving this region for over 20 years,” said LMU Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk. “Jimmy’s family has served the people of Knoxville on the local, state and national level for generations now. When we were looking for a home to grow this program in, we were naturally drawn to this ‘Old City Hall’ with its history as a school and City Hall. Now that it is going to be known as the Duncan School of Law, it is like it is coming full circle from the time that Jimmy’s father was mayor of Knoxville and Jimmy was running around its halls.”

Duncan currently serves as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Highways and Transit Subcommittee. He also holds seats on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He has served in Congress since 1988. Prior to his election to Congress, he served as a State Trial Judge, having been appointed by Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander in 1981. He started his career in law in 1973 with a private law practice in Knoxville with Zane Daniel. Duncan graduated from the University of Tennessee and The George Washington University National Law Center. He is married to the former Lynn Hawkins and they have four children and five grandchildren.

“From the time I was a very small boy, I wanted to be a lawyer. I almost cannot believe that I was fortunate enough to not only to be allowed to practice law, but also to be given the privilege of serving seven and a half years as a judge and now for 20 years in the Congress,” Duncan said “It is not false humility to say that I really do not deserve to have this law school named after me, but it is certainly the highest honor I have ever received. I am very grateful to Chairman DeBusk, Dean Beckman, and all those on the Board and Staff of LMU who have worked to bring this day to fruition.”

Establishing a name for the program is the next step to opening Tennessee’s newest School of Law. Over a year ago, LMU took over the lease on Knoxville’s Old City Hall Building and announced plans to pursue the Juris Doctorate program. Since then LMU hired Sydney A. Beckman to lead the program as dean and Gordon Russell to help lay the foundation as associate dean and library director. Beckman and Russell have led the accreditation process, developed the curriculum and begun hiring faculty.

“This is a special day for LMU and everyone who has been involved in building this program. Today is the day we show what we stand for and what we strive to become,” Beckman said. “To be tied to an exemplary civil servant who has not only walked the steps our students will strive to follow as a lawyer and judge, but who has also served his country in the armed forces and the people of Knoxville for the last 20 years is tremendous. We are proud to be linked to the Duncan legacy.”

The proposed Duncan School of Law received Tennessee Board of Law Examiner approval earlier this month. The approval will allow all of its graduates to be eligible to sit for the Bar Exam in Tennessee. LMU has already submitted a letter of intent to pursue accreditation for the proposed law school to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) and submitted a formal Substantive Change Request to the COC this week. Upon approval, LMU will admit students and begin classes in August 2009. The inaugural class will consist of approximately 75 part-time students. The full-time program will begin Fall 2010 and will consist of another 125 students.

“The Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University will continue our institutional heritage of providing quality, career pathways for the people of Appalachia, and in particular, east Tennessee. We are delighted to have the support of such an esteemed citizen and leader as Congressman Duncan, who truly represents the people of this region,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Sherilyn Emberton. “Lincoln Memorial University is honored to have the newest law school in Tennessee located in such an historic location and named after a man that has contributed so significantly to the great history of our state.”

The honorable Howard Baker offered remarks during the press conference, where DeBusk made the announcement and Duncan’s sons, John and Zane, introduced the Congressman. The official seal of the Duncan School of Law was also unveiled at the press conference with the assistance of Congressman Duncan’s wife, Lynn Duncan, and daughters Whitney Brown and Tara Richardson.

In attendance at the press conference to announce the naming of the school were many of the Congressman’s colleagues including Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp, Illinois Congressman Jerry Costello; Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers; Alabama Congressman Sonny Callahan; former Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist and former Kentucky Congressman Ron Lewis.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at

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