Longtime Faculty Member Anne Dellinger Passes Away at 80

Former faculty member Anne Dellinger photographed for headshot

The UNC School of Government mourns the passing of retired faculty member Anne Dellinger, who served among the ranks for 31 years with distinction. Dellinger joined the then-Institute of Government in 1974, beginning her work in education law. As the School’s resident expert in this field, she travelled across the state giving lectures and advice to school board members, superintendents, and principals. Often, her expertise saved these organizations from making unwise and often illegal personnel decisions.

She later switched her focus to public health law, publishing many definitive legal guides and resources on the subject, including her critical 1991 book, Healthcare Facilities Law. Dellinger served as counselor to the health law practice of Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C. For her long and celebrated record of service to the School, she was named professor emerita of public law and government. 

Throughout her illustrious career, Dellinger authored numerous publications, served as president of the North Carolina Society of Health Care Attorneys, and became the first woman to serve as special assistant to a Federal Bureau of Investigation Director.

Dellinger was a fierce advocate for fairer treatment of vulnerable communities and young women in particular. As the chair of the University’ committee examining the status of women, she authored a trailblazing report on gender inequality in the award of student scholarships and loans at UNC. Recognizing a growing crisis in the increasing number of adolescent women in North Carolina becoming pregnant—many of whom lacked access to vital health information and resources regarding their options—Dellinger produced a series of legal guides for educators, medical personnel, and social services professionals to provide to pregnant and parenting minors. She served as guardian ad litem for young women in foster care, and in her retirement served as Director of Adolescent Health Programs for the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Dellinger was a dedicated academic. She attended college as a National Merit Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a law degree from Duke University, graduating second in her class. Her colleagues and family recall her tireless pursuit of knowledge; she was a voracious reader and consumer of documentaries on an array of serious subject matters. Her interest in documentary filmmaking left a legacy in her name: the “Anne Dellinger Grand Jury Prize” is presented every year at Duke University’s Full Frame Film Festival in honor of her endowment to the organization. 

The School will remember Dellinger as a trusted colleague and devoted friend. Her husband Walter Dellinger, longtime faculty member at the Duke University School of Law and former U.S. solicitor general, summed up his wife’s legacy of passion and zeal for public service following her passing.

“What stands out above all else about Anne is: integrity. I have never known a more selfless, deeply principled person, one who acted consistently upon her convictions.”