Professor Charles E. Daye Honored with Portrait Dedication

October 8, 2020
In 1972, Charles E. Daye became the first African American to hold a tenure-track position at UNC School of Law.

On Wednesday, October 7, Charles E. Daye, Henry Brandis Professor of Law Emeritus at UNC School of Law, was honored with a virtual portrait dedication that drew close to 300 friends, family, colleagues and former students. The commissioned portrait is displayed on the fifth floor of Van Hecke-Wettach Hall. Artist William Paul Thomas’ portrait of Daye was commissioned by the law school to honor the legacy of a man who helped encourage and support students at both of North Carolina’s public law schools for more than four decades.

Speakers at the event included Martin H. Brinkley ’92, dean and Arch T. Allen Distinguished Professor of Law, former colleagues from North Carolina Central University School of Law and Carolina Law as well as Robert A. Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Introduced by Deborah Gerhardt, Reef C. Ivey II Excellence Term Professor, artist William Paul Thomas, a Durham-based painter, photographer and videographer, shared his experience working with Daye on the portrait. Family members as well as event attendees shared their memories of Daye to conclude the portrait dedication

A North Carolina native, Daye was born in Durham in 1944. He graduated magna cum laude from North Carolina Central University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in English. He then pursued his J.D. at Columbia University School of Law. He was a Columbia University National Scholar, a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar in his third year, and graduated cum laude in 1969.

After law school, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Harry Phillips, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, becoming the first African American to clerk in that circuit. Following his clerkship, he entered private practice as an associate for Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C.

Artist William Paul Thomas with Professor Daye. Photo courtesy of the artist.

In 1972, Daye joined the faculty at Carolina Law, becoming the first African American to hold a tenure-track position. He taught torts, housing and community development and administrative advocacy, to name a few. In 1981, he returned to his undergraduate alma mater and served as dean of North Carolina Central University School of Law until 1985. He then rejoined the Carolina Law faculty and was named the Henry P. Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law in 1991.

During his tenure, he served as chair of the University’s Committee on Scholarships and Student Aid and the University’s Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Advisory Board. He served as the deputy director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights for 15 years, until his retirement in 2014.

Daye was an active member of the Carolina Law community far beyond the classroom. Apart from his tenure at NCCU, he served as the advisor to Carolina Law’s Black Law Students Association from 1972 until his retirement. He mentored countless Black law students and helped them navigate the challenges they faced both in and out of the classroom. He continued to mentor many for years after they graduated and entered the profession. His impact on the lives and careers of his mentees is immeasurable.

Beyond the law school, Daye was a leader in state and national organizations. He was president of the Law School Admission Council (1991-93), on the board of governors and as vice president for legal affairs of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (2002-08). He has chaired or served on numerous committees of professional organizations, including committees of the Association of American Law Schools, of the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina State Bar, and the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers where he served as executive secretary for 20 years (1979-99). Daye also served as a member of the board of directors of multiple community organizations, including the Council on Aging Housing Corporation, North Carolina Fair Housing Center, North Carolina Poverty Project and its successor the Poverty Project, the United Way of Greater Durham, the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, and the Center for Community Self Help. He also served 16 years as a member of the board of directors or as president of Triangle Housing Development Corporation.

Throughout his career, Daye was a prolific researcher and author. He is co-author of a course book, Housing and Community Development, now in its fourth edition, and co-author of North Carolina Law of Torts, now in its third edition. He has published dozens of articles, essays, book reviews, and monographs on a variety of subjects including an empirical analysis of educational diversity, housing, state administrative procedure, torts, constitutional law, ethics in law school admissions, affirmative action, and academic support programs. Beyond academia, he writes poetry, and has authored two unpublished volumes—The Crazy Dreamer’s Themes and Accolades for the Streetsweeper.

Over the years, he received numerous awards and recognitions during his career including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine (1982), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Thomas Jefferson Award and the General Alumni Association BAR Outstanding Faculty Award (2004), and the Charles E. Daye Award for Excellence in Faculty Service (2012). Most recently, he was awarded the S. Elizabeth Gibson Award for Faculty Excellence (2017).