Officials at Albany Law School are celebrating the largest donation in school history. It’s part of a new fundraising campaign to expand the institution and its community impact.
Albany Law School President and Dean Alicia Ouellette hailed the gift before a New York City crowd January 17, as part of the school’s "We Rise Together" campaign. Vice President for Institutional Advancement Jeffrey Schanz says the campaign aims to fundraise for three different sectors of the school.
“We have different opportunities for people to support the campaign [in] each of those buckets: ‘independence’ being primarily our scholarship support, ‘innovation’ is developing new innovative programs, new legal programs, technology…and ‘impact,’ of course, our clinics, but also our Government Law Center," says Schanz.
So far, he’s feeling pretty good about the campaign’s progress: the school has raised more than $22 million of its $30 million goal for 2021.
The $15 million donation is the largest in the school’s nearly 170-year history. Schanz says it will largely go toward endowing the school’s law clinics and Justice Center, which will be collectively renamed The Justice Center at Albany Law School.
“There’s funds that will endow the clinic, so one of the nice things about this is this will be something that goes on in perpetuity – funding that will continue to support the clinic for forever," says Schanz.
Albany Law students and faculty provide pro-bono representation for hundreds of clients in the Capital Region through the law clinics each year, in cases ranging from business development to domestic violence, immigration law, and more. While she won’t release much regarding the anonymous donor’s identity, President Ouellette says the donor is particularly motivated by the impact the clinics have on the community.
“This is the rarest kind of donor: someone who is doing something simply to make the world a better place, and not for any kind of personal aggrandizement. [Someone who] doesn’t need any kind of name on a building – which I would be happy to do, I’d love to shout from the rooftops about this donor’s identity," Ouellette laughs. "But I think we need to respect that."
The money will also allow the clinics to expand staff and services. Ouellette says the school will be working closely with its faculty and the donor over the summer to determine exactly where that growth will be. She hopes the gift will encourage others to contribute to the campaign, as Albany Law School prepares to host alumni events in almost all 50 states.
“We often talk about Albany Law School being the ‘best kept secret’ in the Capital Region in terms of the work that we do in the communities, and this is a real signal to the world that there’s something to look at – that there’s a reason that somebody has this kind of faith in our institution," Ouellette notes.
The school currently has 465 students and boasts alumni such as President William McKinley and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The institution ranks 106th in the country for Best Law Schools, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Those wishing to learn more about "We Rise Together: The Campaign for Albany Law School" can visit the school's website at albanylaw.edu/risetogether.