Monday, December 2, 2019
Law.com 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.