Dickinson Law establishes educational equity scholarship

August 25, 2020

CARLISLE, Pa. -- When Penn State Dickinson Law Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services Jeffrey A. Dodge heard about the generous gift made to the Dickinson Law Future Fund and Penn State Student Care and Advocacy Emergency Fund by Dickinson Law Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law Danielle Conway, he was moved. Then he felt inspired to give back as well.

In just a two-week span, Dodge mobilized a group of Dickinson Law faculty and staff to make their own gift in honor of Dean Conway, one that Penn State will match through its $10 million commitment to create the Educational Equity Matching Program.

Faculty and staff raised nearly $27,000 to establish the Dickinson Law Faculty and Staff Educational Equity Scholarship, focused on increasing student diversity and providing for those with financial need. The amount will be matched 1:1 by Penn State’s Educational Equity Matching Program, which was announced in June and gives donors the opportunity to double or triple their support for new scholarship endowments to benefit undergraduate or graduate students whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural, and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the student body.

“We learned about Dean Conway’s $125,000 gift during a faculty meeting. It was the largest gift I’d ever heard of a dean making, and I’ve worked at three different law schools with at least ten deans,” said Dodge. “It was quite inspiring to me how selfless her gift was.”

After the faculty meeting, Dodge approached Kelly Rimmer, Dickinson Law’s director of development and alumni affairs, to inquire about the matching program and how much would need to be raised to access available funds.

Creating a scholarship offered an opportunity to combine two things important to Dodge: uniting faculty and staff to show appreciation for Conway’s pledge while also advancing the causes addressed in recent Dickinson Law resolutions on racial justice and eliminating inequality.

“I felt with the opportunity for matching funds, and the desire within our faculty and staff to build on the diversity of our student body, this was an opportunity we should access,” said Dodge.

Dodge reached out to Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Lawyering Skills Amy Gaudion, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services Gail Partin, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid Bekah Saidman-Krauss, and Assistant Dean Laura Williams, and each one agreed to pledge $1,000. Dodge and the deans emailed the rest of the Dickinson Law faculty and staff inviting them to donate as well and explained that at least $25,000 would have to be raised to access the matching funds.

The request was well received. Within the first hour after Dodge hit send, respondents pledged $10,000 to the Dickinson Law Faculty and Staff Educational Equity Scholarship, with contributions pouring in from resident, adjunct and emeritus faculty, as well as current staff members.

“I was overwhelmed. People responded with gifts of $500, $75, $25, all ranges of contribution,” said Dodge. “The message I hoped to communicate was the scholarship will be set up as a reflection of our whole staff, the whole breadth of our faculty. Everyone across all these areas were represented through the contributions that came through.”

“Dean Conway's recent gift to the Dickinson Law Future Fund and the Penn State Student Care and Advocacy Emergency Fund, as well as her earlier giving with which she challenged us throughout her first year at Dickinson Law, were quite inspirational," said Seth McGeorge, director of instructional and information technology, who supported the scholarship. “The fact that the University was matching our effort played a tremendous role in motivating me to support this initiative, as well as the initiative set forth by this fund to support diversity and educational equity.”

Julie Cullings, assistant director of student services, supported the scholarship because she felt similarly inspired by Conway’s gift as well as the generosity of her colleagues and her deep ties to Dickinson Law.

“Dickinson Law is a passionate, welcoming community, and one that should not be beyond reach for any student,” said Cullings. “Making a gift to this scholarship is one small way that I can help to ensure that our future lawyers are more representative of the diverse populations they serve.”

Doris Orner, the Law School’s chief financial officer, said she sees firsthand the need to provide students with options to finance their education beyond student loans.

“What better time to make a gift than when the impact of my small gift along with other gifts from the Dickinson Law community could make so much more of an impact as a result of a University match?” said Orner. “The ability of Penn State Dickinson Law faculty and staff to raise enough funds for such a worthwhile scholarship opportunity and qualify for University matching funds advances the commitment that we are truly a community dedicated to educational equity and shows our support of Dean Conway’s leadership in this area.”

Added Alison Lintal, director of career services and internship programs, “I contributed to this new fund because I was inspired by Dickinson Law leadership, faculty, staff, and its students, who model anti-racist action by taking affirmative steps to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Dickinson Law setting.”

New faculty members also appreciated the opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause. “I participated to join others in solidarity to support the important and worthy goal for education equity,” said Tonya M. Evans, a visiting professor of law who joined the community in July 2020.

Several people even reached out to Dodge after their initial donation offering to give more money to boost the scholarship to the $25,000 mark if he did not receive enough from his initial communication. In the end, that wasn’t necessary. Forty-four faculty and staff made gifts to the Dickinson Law Faculty and Staff Educational Equity Scholarship, meeting the goal Dodge had set in only 14 days. Conway told Dodge she felt honored that her philanthropy inspired so many to make gifts of their own.

Faculty and staff hope their efforts show Dickinson Law’s commitment to fighting racial injustice, too. “This scholarship is important because it is essential to providing opportunity and attracting talent that will contribute to a stronger Penn State Dickinson Law community,” said Lintal.

“This shows small contributions can make a big impact,” said Dodge.

The Educational Equity Matching Program offers alumni and friends the opportunity to partner with the University in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Penn State. Through June 30, 2022, or until the $10 million pool of matching support is expended, donors can multiply the impact of new scholarships for students whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural, and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the Penn State community. This support will help to fulfill Penn State’s historic land-grant mission—to reach all citizens of our commonwealth through teaching, research, and service—and drive transformation across the institution and the larger world. Learn more at raise.psu.edu/EEMP.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 25, 2020