Magazine / People

Evans Award winner Doug Scrivner has forged strong DU connections

Among his many acts of service to DU, Doug Scrivner makes weekly flights from his California home to teach corporate governance risk and compliance at the Sturm College of Law. Photo courtesy of Snavely and Associates

Growing up in Madison, Wis., Doug Scrivner didn’t have to go far to find playmates. Thanks to his parents’ sense of community, Scrivner’s home was always buzzing with kids from the neighborhood. “It was an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ kind of environment,” recalls Scrivner, a DU trustee, alumnus and adjunct professor.

DU will present Scrivner (JD ’77) with the John Evans Award, the University’s highest alumni honor, at the Founders Day ceremony in March. In his typically modest fashion, Scrivner doesn’t take full credit for the ethic of altruistic hard work he has brought to myriad DU endeavors over the years. “Whoever I am as a person,” he says, “is entirely attributable to my parents.”

Among his DU initiatives, Scrivner is particularly excited about the creation of the Academic Commons at Penrose Library. The remodeled building will include a café funded partially by a gift from Scrivner and his wife, Mary. Envisioned as a place for students to socialize and study, the café will be called the Front Porch to reflect the house he grew up in and “to draw upon memories of my mom and dad growing up, and what my parents meant to so many.”

It is in that spirit of social obligation and community building that Scrivner, 60, has helped DU grow. He sits on various University committees. He makes weekly flights from his California home to teach corporate governance risk and compliance at the Sturm College of Law. He was an adviser on the law school’s recent strategic planning exercise, has been a leader on several DU fundraising campaigns and served on the search committee that led to the appointment of Martin Katz as dean of Sturm. In addition, he developed the concept and provided initial funding for the Ved Nanda Center for International Law. Scrivner has done it all with a low-key, inquisitive demeanor that belies his tenacity.

“On campus he carries a tremendous amount of power, and yet no one feels that,” Katz says of the former corporate attorney. “He’s not the image of a prosecutor you would see in a courtroom drama.”

When Katz was interim dean in 2009, Scrivner approached him. “He sort of reached out and made it clear he was willing to help both me and the law school in any way he could,” Katz recalls. Scrivner’s proactive stance led to a close partnership and open dialogue between the two men. “It has led to wonderful places,” Katz says, including the formation of a trustee advisory board for the school.

The 2012 Founders Day awards, which recognize accomplishments of alumni, faculty and staff, will be handed out at a gala reception March 8 at the Seawell Grand Ballroom in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Read about the other recipients here.

Scrivner’s relationship with DU began in 1974. He had earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s degree in international relations from the London School of Economics, but Scrivner came to Denver seeking to study under Professor Ved Nanda, then an up-and-coming star in the world of international law, and to pursue a PhD at the Graduate School (now Josef Korbel School) of International Studies. In time, he dropped his doctoral work in favor of completing his law degree — a decision he has never regretted.

Scrivner’s time in Denver was a blur of intensive studies, summer classes and work as editor of the law review, shuttling between the law school downtown and the main campus. Scrivner was in such a rush that he skipped his graduation ceremony to marry his sweetheart in Evans Chapel, honeymoon briefly at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and then hit the road for a job with a Minnesota law firm.

After two years in Minneapolis, Scrivner made the fateful decision to respond to a blind ad in The Wall Street Journal. The firm that hired him as one of its three lawyers eventually became Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. During Scrivner’s 31 years at Accenture, the firm went from 2,000 employees and $220 million in revenue to 230,000 employees and $25 billion in revenue. Scrivner served as the corporate behemoth’s general counsel for 14 years, building a legal group of more than 400 lawyers in 35 countries.

When he left Accenture in 2011, Scrivner accelerated a wide range of volunteer work. He serves on advisory boards and committees at Duke, the California State Bar Law Academy Strategic Task Force and the Project for Attorney Retention, an initiative to help law firms and law departments attract and retain female lawyers. He provides funds to a Saturday law academy for underprivileged California ninth-graders and occasionally speaks to students at the University of California-Berkeley and Northwestern University’s law schools. “I retired from Accenture, not life,” Scrivner says with a laugh.

At DU, Scrivner has served as a trustee, a chairman of the law school’s visiting committee and national co-chair of the school’s Second Century Campaign.But he is especially proud of his work with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System’s Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers initiative, which encourages innovation in legal education.

Scrivner explains his motivation to improve DU in simple terms. “It’s about the sense of gratitude I have to the people there who helped me accomplish so much,” he says.


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