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Real estate developer and his wife—both nonlawyers—give $55M to Chapman’s law school

Posted Aug 14, 2013 8:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Chapman University’s law school is getting a new name after a real estate developer and his wife made a $55 million donation to the school.

The donation from Dale Fowler and his wife of 52 years, Sarah Ann, is believed to be the second largest single gift to an American law school, according to a press release. The California law school will officially announce the new name—The Dale E. Fowler School of Law—during a ribbon cutting on Sept. 10.

Dale Fowler is an alumnus of Chapman University, but not the law school, which was founded after his graduation. Two of the couple’s three children also graduated from the university. He began his real estate career while in college, building a successful business in industrial property development. His wife also worked in the business.

Fowler says in the press release that he is honored to be able to have an impact on generations of students to come.

In 2007, the Fowlers gave $60 million to Gordon College in Massachusetts, where two of their grandchildren were enrolled, according to a story published in the Boston Business Journal that year. He told the publication that he put himself through college selling cars and began his real-estate career with the purchase of a patch of land at the age of 21. He built a 10-unit apartment building for $6,200 and sold it three years later for $35,000.

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