Opening Statements

Drexel University's law school puts naming rights back on the table

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Drexel’s law school used to be named after benefactor Earle Mack. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

In Philadelphia, the name of a private law school is up for grabs. Drexel University’s law school, founded in 2006, had been named the Earle Mack School of Law in honor of its major benefactor. But the fledgling law school has now switched its name to the Drexel University School of Law. Mack, a former ambassador to Finland, graduated from Drexel University in 1959 and donated $15 million to the law school as it attempted to establish itself. At the time, Drexel and its donors matched Mack’s donation.

In 2008 the university honored Mack with a ceremony attended by then-Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former New York Gov. George Pataki. But last year, Drexel University President John A. Fry and the chairman of its board of trustees, Richard A. Greenawalt, announced that Mack had graciously stepped aside.

The move, they noted in a letter, allows the school “to seek additional benefactors to further advance the school in what has become a very challenging legal education climate.”

The Earle I. Mack Foundation and Drexel “jointly concluded” that ensuring the school’s success will require an economic foundation beyond that established by Mack’s gift and the university’s matching funds. Mack will “remain an inspirational figure for our students and the entire Drexel community,” they wrote.

Mack says he understands the “business of law schools,” adding, “I’m just happy to be helpful to the law school any way I can.”

Drexel received full accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2011, and officials are working hard to attract students. The school is starting a fast-track two-year program. Dean Roger Dennis also touts Drexel’s commitment to public interest work, its numerous financial aid packages and its field placement program.

“We give our students an enormous range of opportunities for experiential learning,” Dennis says.

At press time, there was no word on who will take Mack’s place as the school’s named benefactor.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “Naming Rights: Drexel University’s law school is looking for a new moniker.”

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