Monday, December 2, 2019

Are "transformative gifts" really transformative? has a list of naming gifts to law schools over the last few decades, with the majority coming in the last two decades.  Here are the biggest gifts, by year:

    1998:    $115 million to the University of Arizona

    2001:    $30 million to Ohio State University

    2001:    $30 million to the University of Utah

    2008:    $35 million to Indiana University, Bloomington

    2011:    $30 million to the University of Maryland

    2013:    $50 million to Chapman University

    2014:    $50 million to Drexel University

    2015:    $100 million to Northwestern University

    2016:    $30 million to George Mason University

    2019:    $50 million to Pepperdine University

    2019:    $125 million to the University of Pennsylvania

For some of these gifts, it's too soon to say what their effects will be, and some of them served more, one suspects, to help newer schools stay afloat and continue to grow during tough times (e.g., Chapman, Drexel). On the other hand, George Mason's gift has already resulted in a lot more hiring by that school.   But Ohio State, Utah, and Indiana all seem to be roughly where they were at the time of the gifts:  strong state flagships, neither much better, and certainly not worse.   The same goes for the most remarkable gift of them all, the one to Arizona, much lauded at the time.   I gather a good chunk of that gift went to bricks and mortar, rather than expanding the size of a fairly small faculty.  Northwestern's more recent major gift was followed a few years later by belt-tightening anyway.

It remains to be seen whether any of these gifts will really change the strength and status of any of these schools.  In ten years, we'll probably have a clearer idea of the impact given how recent many of the largest gifts are.

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