June 18, 2012

Anonymous Donor’s $25M Gift Is Largest in Law School’s History

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The Cornell Law School announced this month that one of its graduates has promised a $25 million donation to the school.

The announcement of the donation — the largest  in the law school’s history — was followed by a groundbreaking ceremony on June 10 for its major new building expansion. The gift, however, will bolster the law school’s general finances and fund, among other projects, student scholarships, support for faculty research and a wide range of national and international programs, according to Stewart Schwab, dean of the law school.

The donor, who is requesting to remain anonymous, decided how the gift would be used after an “ongoing series of discussion[s]” with Schwab and Peter Cronin, associate dean for alumni affairs and development.

Schwab said he has worked with the donor and that the donor “is terrifically loyal to the law school and understands its mission and vision.”

The last donation of a comparable size to the Cornell Law School came from Jane Foster ’18, who in the late 1980s gave $17 million. It was used toward the funding of “noteworthy buildings and expansions to the school,” according to the law school’s website.

Prof. Kevin Clermont, law school, said that he found it incredible that the donor wished to remain anonymous, foregoing “naming opportunities galore” presented by the current building expansion.

“This alumnus was insisting: ‘No, the money should in a way just go into the general fund’ and hence remain nameless. It’s really admirable that the person wanted it for general funding as opposed to memorializing themselves,” Clermont said.

Cronin, the associate dean, agreed, saying that “[the donation] is a significant investment on people.”

The law school has received nearly six million dollars in other donations in support of the law school since July 2011, according to Cronin.

At the reunion luncheon where the donation was announced, people were “truly impressed and moved by the announcement,” and some joked that they were the anonymous donors, according to Clermont.

Original Author: Jinjoo Lee