Law School Named for Antonin Scalia with Koch Foundation Gift

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Scalia

By United States Mission Geneva [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 March 31, 2016; Wall Street Journal

Less than two months after his death, Justice Antonin Scalia’s name is being given to the law school at George Mason University in suburban Washington, D.C. With a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor and a $10 million grant from the Charles Koch Foundation, the school will be formally named the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University, likely the Scalia Law School for short.

As a public university in Virginia, a state regulatory body needs to finalize the naming, which is expected to happen soon. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Scalia’s colleague on the Court and a close friend (though frequent ideological adversary), called the naming a “fitting tribute.”

The announcement is interesting for several reasons: the speed with which an eight-figure gift was negotiated and made public, the presence of an anonymous lead gift in an era of wealthy donors seeking charity-fueled publicity, major support for a naming gift being provided by a charitable foundation, albeit a foundation itself named after a living billionaire, and the explicit acknowledgement that the law school and its naming for Scalia are ideologically well-matched.

The $30 million renaming gift will endow four scholarships, including three based on academic excellence and one, named after free-market economist F.A. Hayek, that will be used to support a student interested in economic analysis of the law. In addition, the gift will be used to hire additional law school faculty.

To further emphasize the speed with which the gift is changing the law school, university officials announced that new campus signage and marketing materials would be in place by July—three months from the announcement date.—Michael Wyland