Penn Law breaks fundraising record
The Law School has raised $180 million under Michael Fitts, who was named dean in 2000
October 5, 2012, 12:32 am·
One hundred eighty million dollars — that’s how much the Law School has raised under the leadership of Michael Fitts, who was named dean in 2000.
“Bold Ambitions: The Campaign for Penn Law,” officially announced in 2006, has exceeded expectations by $5 million. It has allowed the school to increase its faculty by 40 percent, expand its interdisciplinary programs, double the funding for student financial aid and get a $33.5 million makeover with the construction of Golkin Hall.
The decade-long capital fundraising campaign is “by far the largest in the law school’s history,” Fitts said.
The campaign relied heavily on large contributions. Over the past decade, 17 donors have given over $3 million each, accounting for almost a third of the total raised. These 17 donors had professorships in Penn Law named after them.
Some donors have helped create entirely new centers. Peter Detkin, for example, donated $2 million to create the Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Clinic, which will admit eight students beginning this January.
The clinic will collaborate with the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Perelman School of Medicine — a testament to the campaign’s focus on interdisciplinary and pre-professional education.
Fitts said he modeled Penn Law’s new interdisciplinary programs on those of the university as a whole.
“We started with a clear view of what we could do academically that could best prepare our students to be the lawyer-leader-problem-solvers,” Fitts said. “Penn has always been great at integrating knowledge.”
Paul Robinson, the Colin S. Diver Professor of Law who came to Penn in 2002 after teaching at Northwestern University Law School, also believes that interdisciplinary studies are an important new trend in legal education.
“This has revolutionized law in the past 15 years,” he said. “Penn Law is at the forefront of that change.”
Another new focus for the school will be international programs, Fitts said.
He said the legal profession has gone through many changes and students should “hit the ground running.”
“When I was in law school, a lawyer just has to stand up in the courtroom.… Today, that lawyer is just as likely to be standing up in court in London or Brussels,” he said.
Penn Law has between four and five faculty from around the world and six exchange programs abroad, according to Fitts.
Paul Levy, a 1972 Penn Law graduate and chair of the Bold Ambitions campaign, is enthusiastic about the campaign. He estimates his overall donation to the campaign is be about $8 million.
The initial goal of $175 million “was extremely ambitious,” he said. “We’re delighted to have exceeded our goal.”
He attributes the success to Fitts, who is “a fantastic dean,” h e said.
“Fundraising is really communicating to the alumni where the needs of the school are and why it’s important to support the law school right now,” Fitts said, stressing the importance of alumni donations to the successful campaign.
The dean has old ties with the school. He grew up in West Philadelphia and his father and grandfather were both Penn faculty, he said. “I grew up understanding the promise of Penn.”