Dudley O. McGovney held degrees from University of Indiana, Harvard University, and Columbia University. During college, he served in the Spanish-American War, and he spent two years teaching in the Philippines after graduation. He served as dean of University of Iowa College of Law from 1916 to 1925. Dean McGovney spearheaded an effort to recruit women students, particularly during dwindling enrollment by male students during World War I.
He also taught law at University of Illinois, Tulane University, University of Missouri, and University of California. His work focused on contracts and constitutional law. He died in 1947.