Gifts prompt GMU’s plans to rename its law school
George Mason University plans to rename its law school after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
GMU announced the move after receiving $30 million in donations to support the law school, which is located in Arlington. The combined gifts are the largest received by the university.
The school’s proposed new name is the Antonin Scalia Law School. The name change, which must be approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, is expected to take effect on July 1. GMU established the law school in 1979.
GMU first announced the law school’s name would be Antonin Scalia School of Law. That was quickly dropped when its acronym (ASSoL) provoked jokes on social media.
Scalia, a McLean resident who served 30 years on the Supreme Court, spoke at the dedication of the law school building in 1999 and was a guest lecturer at the university. He died earlier this year during a vacation in Texas.
The $30 million in gifts includes $10 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and $20 million from an anonymous donor.
Koch, a politically influential industrialist, has been a frequent GMU donor. The Associated Press reported that he gave nearly $48 million to the university from 2011 to 2014, with much of the money supporting GMU’s Mercatus Center think tank in Arlington and its Institute for Humane Studies.
Koch is co-owner with his brother, David, of Koch Industries, a conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan.
The $20 million gift came to George Mason through a donor who approached Leonard A. Leo of the Federalist Society, a friend of Scalia and his family. The donor asked that the university name the law school in Scalia’s honor. Leo said the family supports the move.
GMU said the gifts will be made to its foundation over the next five years. Beginning this fall, each entering class will receive about $2 million in scholarships, which will be guaranteed for all three years of law school.
The law school hopes to increase the size of each entering class by about 55 students.