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A Field of Dreams

Harvey DaleHarvey Dale, University Professor of Philanthropy and the Law, is one of the country’s leading experts in taxation and philanthropy. Dale started his career as an international tax lawyer and joined the faculty in 1977 to teach international tax, which was then a growing area. Meanwhile, Dale began representing his increasingly wealthy clients’ philanthropic work, a shift that culminated in his becoming founding president of the Atlantic Philanthropies, the then-secret foundation of Duty Free Shoppers’ Chuck Feeney, who planned to give away his billions during his lifetime. It’s hard to overstate the importance of Feeney’s philanthropic approach—a story chronicled in the book The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune—and Dale’s work in making it happen from a legal perspective.

As Dale focused more on Atlantic, his academic focus shifted to nonprofits. “I had a very steep learning curve,” he recalls. And as Dale delved into an area of law that few people understood, he brought that new area of learning to NYU Law.

A study of nonprofit law that Dale commissioned in the mid-1980s spawned a program in nonprofit law and ultimately led to the 1996 founding of NYU’s National Center on Philanthropy and the Law, which serves as a clearinghouse on nonprofit law and the teaching of it. “Harvey was one of the founding fathers of the area,” says Jill Manny, executive director of the philanthropy center and adjunct professor since 1993. Dale, who in addition to teaching a class on nonprofit law works with the center on conferences and travels the world for his own nonprofit work, puts it in perspective: “Nonprofits are 5.5 percent of GDP, yet they were rarely taught at any law school. We had to create the whole field of nonprofit law.”

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