The university announced Thursday that it has received $30 million in combined gifts to the George Mason Foundation to support the law school, the largest gift in the university’s history. The donations make possible three new scholarship programs. Twenty million dollars came from an anonymous donor, and $10 million came from the Charles Koch Foundation, which has given millions of dollars to colleges in the United States.In one fell swoop, the school has made itself a center of legal conservatism and raked in $30 million - that's, like, 1,000 lemming-years of tuition. It's not every day that an anonymous donor just shows up wanting to pay the lifetime premiums of twenty lawyers to name a school after someone else, but George Mason was there to answer the phone when said donor hit its number on the robo-dialer.
Leonard A. Leo, a member of the Federalist Society who was close with Scalia and his family, was approached by a donor who asked that the university name the law school in honor of the late justice, and offered a $20 million donation.
While it sort of feels like being the guy at the party nearest the girl who needs convenient rebound sex instanter, this major coup for the marketing department is certainly fitting. Scalia, as is widely known, was a fan of the diversity loved by legal education:
“When we speak about diversity, that includes diversity of thought and exposing ourselves to a range of ideas and points of view,” Cabrera said in the university’s statement.Too forced? Consider the word choice used here:
Scalia was so divisive in his lifetime that even immediately after his death, people were arguing fiercely about his legacy.
“These gifts will create opportunities to attract and retain the best and brightest students...in contrast with Scalia's infamous remark about his clerk hiring policies:
“By and large, I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into,” Scalia said. “They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, O.K.?”It doesn't take a dictionary from 1802 to know that's a direct reference. George Mason is about to experience a renaissance of attracting top-quality students. Sure,George Mason is currently attracting LSATs in the 156-162 range with GPAs hovering around an inflated 3.5. Sure, the law schools employment score is only 55%. Sure, George Mason has had one (1) Supreme Court clerk and Justice Scalia wouldn't have dared actually hiring one of these sow's ears for his chambers.
But it's a new day, and it couldn't have come soon enough.
While it took Justice Cardozo 38 years to get a law school named after him, it only took Scalia 47 days for someone to exploit his legacy for the beautiful, anonymous bag of cash.
That's progress, folks. Hopefully, by the time our next great jurist passes on, the paperwork is in order to transfer the check the day-of. Because even though the country is running with an even-numbered Supreme Court, that's no reason to not use it as a golden opportunity to pour more gold in the law school money tank.