Fordham Law School announced today that it has received multiple donations totaling more than $3.5 million to fund new initiatives aimed at addressing structural racism within the law school community and in society. The law school also announced that it has hired Kamille Dean as the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, a new position working with Kimathi Gordon-Somers, dean of student affairs. The new role is supported by some of the recent donations.
The largest donation is nearly $1.4 million from an anonymous alum. The donations that bring the total amount to $3,545,000 include:
- $1,400,000 from the anonymous alum to support:
- A scholarship fund for students from first-generation or underrepresented communities,
- The Increasing Diversity in Education and the Law (IDEAL) program, which helps identify motivated and talented underrepresented students in the New York City area and exposes them to the many facets of the legal profession.
- A career planning counselor who will focus on supporting students who are first-generation or from underrepresented communities
- The Law School’s Annual Fund
- $1,400,000 from the anonymous alum to support:
- $1.25 million from David Tanen ’96, a Fordham Law alumnus who is co-founder of Two River, a life sciences venture capital firm. The money will support programming, training, and education on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues for faculty, students, staff, and the alumni community.
- $400,000 from Linda Cronin and Denis Cronin ‘72 to support the establishment of the position of director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- $390,000 from Microsoft to support the law school’s Center on Race, Law and Justice with a particular focus on the center’s efforts around policing and technology.
- $60,000 from faculty members to help support the establishment of the Deborah A Batts Scholarship, which will be awarded to students who have overcome economic, social, or educational disadvantage and who are committed to using their legal education to promote social justice, civil rights, and equality. The scholarship is named for the Honorable Deborah A. Batts who was the first tenured African American member of the Fordham Law faculty and who was the first openly LGBT member of the federal judiciary.
- The law school will use money previously donated to the law school scholarship fund and part of its operating budget to establish the Lawrence W. Pierce scholarship program. The program will provide opportunities to students from underrepresented groups in the legal profession. It is named in honor of Lawrence W. Pierce ’51, who had a distinguished career in public service and was the third Black judge to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
- $45,000 from the Miranda Family Fund to support the Increasing Diversity in Education and the Law (IDEAL) program.
The fundraising success marks progress in the school’s ongoing effort to address structural racism. The effort, which Dean Mathew Diller launched in June, has three prongs: 1) expanding the diversity of the Fordham Law community and enhancing support systems for these diverse students; 2) working to fundamentally change the environment at Fordham Law to make it more welcoming and inclusive, and 3) committing as a community to fighting for racial justice in society in the best tradition of the school’s motto “in the service of others.”
Kamille Dean joins a growing team. In the spring Jennifer Haastrup, a licensed social worker and certified crisis counselor, was appointed the diversity, equity, and inclusion program manager.
“We are extremely grateful for the generous gifts from the anonymous donor, Dave Tanen, Linda and Denis Cronin, Microsoft, the Miranda Family Fund, our faculty, and everybody else who is supporting these important initiatives,” said Dean Diller. “This summer has brought a renewed focus on issues of race and injustice in our society, and like many institutions, we must examine where we have fallen short and take action to improve and provide strong leadership. I am excited that we will have Kamille Dean helping to guide us on many of these efforts moving forward.”
Dean comes from St. John’s University Law School, where she served as the school’s first director of diversity and inclusion. She also served as the director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and the Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program for College Students. She previously was a tenured faculty member at Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
“This is both an exciting and a challenging time as we push for real, sustainable change, and I welcome the opportunity to work with Dean Diller and a great team at Fordham Law to continue and expand the many diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that are underway,” Dean said.
About his donation, Tanen said, “I am grateful for the many opportunities a Fordham Law education provided to me, and I am pleased to help support the law school’s effort to build a more inclusive environment that enables students of all races and backgrounds to thrive within this great community and take advantage of everything the school offers.”