One of the many pleasures of working on behalf of Vanderbilt Law School is that our alumni, in contrast to law school graduates from many other institutions, actually have fond memories of their time here. Many recall a Vanderbilt law professor as the best teacher they ever had. Most made lifelong friends here—and some met their spouses, too! Some remember alumni who taught them as professors, mentored them, or hired them for their first internship or job after graduation—sometimes all three. While earning a law degree at Vanderbilt has never been easy, most of you tell me that you had a deeply rewarding experience here—and that you had fun, too.
I especially enjoy hearing your great stories about your experiences at Vanderbilt Law at our annual Reunion. While bringing together 10 classes over a weekend requires hard work, it is well worth the effort. Our alumni have a great time reconnecting with one another and with the school, and the Reunion classes provide meaningful support for our hard-working students and faculty. In addition to Bob Reder’s wonderful gift to create the Enterprise Faculty Fund, we saw across-the-board improvement from the classes celebrating this year; gifts and pledges increased by nearly $1.5 million over the 2012 Reunion cycle. Overall, the 2013 Reunion classes committed $2.29 million to the school.
This year’s Reunion was a success made possible by our alumni volunteers. Class chairs and committee members gave of their time and energy, opened their homes for events and gatherings, and generally worked diligently to ensure that their classmates would not miss an opportunity to enjoy themselves and support the law school. We are very much looking forward to working with the classes ending in ‘4’ and '9' for an even better result for this fall’s Reunion. Please let us know if you are interested in helping out!
In addition to a great Reunion result, we continue to be fortunate to receive financial support from many other alumni. I am grateful to longtime supporter Jack Colvin ’65 (BA’55, MS’58) and his wife Beth, whose $100,000 pledge will endow the Colvin Scholarship; the fund will grow further one day through the Colvin’s generous bequest. I also want to thank Barney Byrd ’79 and Elena Byrd for renewing their annual funding of the Byrd Scholarship, a full scholarship that will be awarded to a student starting next year. And one of our Reunion volunteers, current Board of Advisors member Mike Phifer ’83 (BA’78), made an additional six-figure pledge to his already endowed scholarship fund and to support the Annual Fund.
We enjoyed a strong year in the Annual Fund in FY13, which ended on June 30, 2013. These gifts from alumni, parents and other friends of the school help bridge the gap between student tuition and the law school’s actual operating costs, providing everything from scholarship support to investment in programs like summer public interest stipends and the post-graduate Public Service Initiative. The Annual Fund total of $1,301,878 fell just shy of the record set in the 2012 fiscal year, and we are on pace to shatter that record by June 30, 2014.
Each April, we celebrate those who join the Founders Circle by making annual gifts of $2,500 or more at a dinner hosted by Dean Guthrie, where we also honor the Distinguished Alumna/us and present the Distinguished Service Award. It would be a great pleasure to be able to invite even more of you to this annual celebration of alumni and friends who invest in the law school, and I hope you will consider joining the Founders Circle this year. (Note that alumni who graduated within the past 10 years may join the Founders Circle with a gift of $1,000.) My wife and I are members, and it gives us great pride to contribute to the success of the school. We hope to see you there!
Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Relations