Two summers ago I lauded a number of donors for either endowing new scholarships or making significant contributions to existing scholarship funds. Since that time, I am happy to share that we—and most importantly, our students—have continued to benefit from new and additional scholarship investments from alumni and friends of Vanderbilt Law School. Four new endowed scholarships were funded in the 2017 fiscal year, and we received two additional pledges to create named scholarship endowments.
When Chris Guthrie began his tenure as dean in 2009, the law school had 44 named endowed scholarship funds. As of this writing, we have 75—a 70 percent increase in just eight years’ time. Considering the strides we have made under his leadership, it is fitting that one of the funded scholarships that helped us hit 75 this year was the G+G Scholarship, a gift from Dean Guthrie and his partner, Professor Tracey George.
In addition to the increased number of endowed funds, we have received 13 new major gifts to scholarships that were either previously endowed or have been newly endowed since 2009. Typically, once donors create a scholarship fund—and especially once they meet the students benefiting from their support—they choose to continue investing. Among those 13 gifts are a new pledge of $1,000,000, a pledge of $250,000, and a cash gift of $250,000.
And those 13 gifts do not include the strong, steady annual giving to scholarships both from the original donors and from others. This year alone, we received four $25,000 gifts, a $15,000 gift, and several additional $10,000 gifts. Over time, this annual investment significantly enhances our ability to reduce the debt burden of our students.
While we are grateful for this progress, we still have much work to do. It is not uncommon for our competitors both above and below us in the rankings to offer substantially larger scholarships and financial aid packages to potential students. While our unique culture allows us to compete very effectively, we too often have students choose another school for financial reasons, despite their desire to attend Vanderbilt.
New endowed scholarships can be established with a gift or pledge of $100,000, and they also can be created by classes or other affinity groups. For example, the Classes of 1975, 1990, 1991 and 1994 all have endowed scholarship funds. Members of our development team are happy to support these efforts as part of your Reunion celebrations or otherwise. The most recent of these endowment gifts, from the Class of 1975, was done in honor of their classmate Mark Dalton ’75 as he completed his service as chairman of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust. Multiple classmates traveled from around the country to surprise Mark with the gift at the law school while he was in Nashville for his final Board of Trust meeting.
Finally, some of our most substantial scholarship gifts have come from bequests or other estate gifts. In the 2017 fiscal year, we received two new seven-figure bequest pledges from alumni with existing scholarship funds, and a number of other substantial gifts to either existing funds or new ones. Among these is a significant planned gift from Dean Guthrie and Professor George for their scholarship fund.
In addition to giving, alumni serve the school in many other ways, as you undoubtedly see in the pages of this magazine. I would particularly like to thank Stephanie Parker ’84 for hosting our Atlanta alumni reception in November 2016, and Jim Cuminale ’78 for hosting our New York alumni reception in May.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming the classes ending in 2 and 7 (from the Class of 1967 to the Class of 2012) back to campus and Nashville for our Reunion, Oct. 6–7, and we encourage the rest of you to stop by when you can!
Scotty Mann, J.D.
Associate Dean, Development and Alumni Relations