Biographical Information

F. D. G. ("Deane") Ribble received a B.A. from the College of William and Mary in 1916.  He enrolled in the University of Virginia earning an M.A. in 1917 and an LL.B. in 1921. Later that year, he became the youngest member of the Law School faculty at Virginia.  He was promoted to full Professor by 1927. A respected constitutional law scholar, Ribble taught that subject, as well as real property and public utilities. In addition to numerous law review articles, his publications included State and National Power over Commerce in 1937, and the 2nd edition of Minor on Real Property in 1946. His colleague, Emerson Spies described Ribble’s approach to instruction: “Deane as a teacher was a master of the Socratic method…Knowing that they would not be spoon-fed by Deane, students were challenged to seek their own conclusions.” Ribble assumed the position of dean in 1939 and remained in that job until 1963. His administrative leadership is credited with securing the University of Virginia’s place as a school of national standing and with doubling its enrollment. He worked to attract and retain outstanding scholars on the faculty by making salaries competitive. Soon thereafter, he began planning for the enlargement of Clark Hall and the expansion of the library holdings. In 1951-52 the Law School Foundation was established with Ribble's guidance, as well as that of alumni Walter Brown and Joseph Hartfield.

Additionally, Ribble was involved in a number of extracurricular professional activities. From 1946 to 1951, he was on the U. S. Commission for UNESCO, and he was a delegate to the UNESCO Conferences in Beirut, 1948, and Paris, 1951. He represented the United States at the 1950 Conference on Freedom of Information in Geneva. Ribble was a strong advocate of civil rights and worked actively for the cause in the 1960s. He was especially disturbed by the closing of Prince Edward County's public schools.  Ribble helped to form the Free School Association which provided supplemental education for black children during the last school year (1963-1964) in which the public schools were closed. This successful program, for which Ribble was Treasurer, was funded by donations from all over the country and supported by the office of U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, a former student of Ribble. In 1961, Ribble received the University’s highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award. Although his wife died in 1964, he continued living in Pavilion X, their home of 25 years, and he taught  law classes each year until he retired in 1966. He died in 1970.

3rd Dean of the Law School
3rd Dean of the Law School, Faculty, Alumni
Faculty Presence: 
1921 to 1966

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