David Tanen ’96 Recognized for Commitment to Enhancing the Fordham Law Student Experience


Though some colleagues call David Tanen ’96 a “driving force” behind critical educational enhancements made to Fordham Law in the last two decades, he humbly disagrees.

“I’m just the gas that fills the tank,” Tanen said of his philanthropy. “It’s the Law School that generates the ideas and creates the initiatives.”

Tanen, co-founder and partner of the venture capital firm Two River and member of the Law School’s Dean’s Planning Council and the University’s Board of Trustees, has given back to his alma mater for nearly 15 years, making numerous philanthropic investments to build more student-centered experiences at the Law School and support the Law School’s diversity efforts.

Family, friends, and members of the Fordham community celebrated Tanen on Feb. 1 for his ardent support and contributions to the Law School at the naming of the Law School’s first floor atrium. The area, where hundreds of Fordham Law community members cross paths and connect with one another every day, is now known as the Tanen Atrium.

“If I ever told my parents that my name was on the wall at Fordham Law School, they’d accuse me of vandalism or say it was graffiti,” Tanen said with a laugh ahead of the renaming. “It’s an incredible honor to have my family name on the wall with so many other esteemed alumni … it’s nothing I ever expected.”

His gifts have not only provided crucial financial scholarship assistance to students, but have also funded and supported programming, training, and education on diversity, equity and inclusion issues for the whole Fordham Law community. He also supported the IDEAL pipeline program, the REAL Scholars Program, and the 1L House System, as well as the inaugural cohort of professionalism fellows, upper-level law students who sought to promote mentorship, professionalism, and inclusion among first-year students. The hope, according to Tanen, is that students “will be able to have the same communal, engaging experience that I had at Fordham, both academically and socially” through such innovative programs and initiatives.

The Law School also announced that evening the establishment of the Tanen Leadership Center with funding to cultivate students’ professional skills and offer leadership training with the intention of helping them develop the qualities necessary to evolve into future leaders in law and business. The Center will support and enhance Fordham Law School’s staff and student programming in the areas of professionalism, the House System, student affairs, legal writing, fundamental lawyering skills, career planning, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

“I like to think that Fordham produces some of the best lawyers in New York City and around the country,” Tanen said. “We work hard and do a great job, and I want to make sure that the Law School not only continues to produce high-quality, exceptional professional leaders in the field, but also provides a nurturing, healthful environment in which to learn.”

“The Fordham community has meant a lot to me, and that’s something that I wanted to help to foster and give back to. I’m fortunate to be able to do so.”

Fordham community members applauded Tanen’s commitment to the success of the Law School and its students and for amplifying the school’s mission.

“When Dean Matthew Diller, Assistant Dean Vera Tkachuk, and I met with Dave about his gift to create the Tanen Leadership Center, what I remember most was Dave’s great enthusiasm and passion for everything we were talking about,” said University Board of Trustees Chair Armando Nuñez, GABELLI ’82. “Of course, as a lawyer who works in venture capital, he naturally did his research and his due diligence before saying ‘yes,’ but once he said ‘yes’ he was enthusiastically all in.”

University Provost Dennis C. Jacobs added, “Dave has built a reputation in the Fordham community as someone whose generosity fuels new and important initiatives.”

Eric Grossman ’93, Morgan Stanley’s chief legal officer and chief administrative officer, who chairs the Dean’s Planning Council, echoed similar sentiments about his friend and colleague. “He is an inspiration to all of us, and I want to personally thank Dave for being such a valued member of our community, for making such an important impact on the student experience, and for his guidance and insights.”

“I think, sadly, for legions of people who come to the building, this is just a chapter in a journey. But what Dave and I, like lots of others in the room, share is an appreciation for just how important that chapter was,” said Grossman. “For Dave to give back and the way he’s given back, I could not be more proud of my friend, colleague, and fellow alum.”

“Early in my deanship it was clear to me that we needed to provide greater structure and needs for our students, to support them on their way through their experience,” said Dean Matthew Diller. “As I reflect back over the past nine years as dean and the projects we’ve worked on, I am proud and excited by many of the things that we brought to the school—and many of the things that I’m most proud of would not have happened without Dave. It’s as simple as that. I’m incredibly grateful to Dave for the transformative programs and the fantastic people we’ve been able to bring to Fordham Law as a result of his support.”

Tanen Atrium Unveiling (02.01.2024)


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