Penn State Law collaborates to establish new diversity scholarships

October 28, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With leadership from Dean Hari Osofsky, Associate Dean Jill Engle, its alumni boards, and its faculty, staff and students, Penn State Law in University Park established four new diversity scholarships that will receive matches from Penn State’s Education Equity Matching Program. They are an important part of Penn State Law’s commitment to ongoing concrete action on diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism.

“It is crucial that we commit ourselves to supporting the next generation of lawyers who come from diverse backgrounds,” said Osofsky. “These new scholarships – which, with the University match, total over $300,000 in endowed support – will make an important difference in our efforts to support our students and diversify the profession.”

The George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law was co-founded by leadership gifts from Penn State Law Dean Hari Osofsky and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Jill Engle. In response to their call for others to join them, 37 faculty, staff, students, and alumni made gifts. With the University match, the $125,000 endowed scholarship will provide financial support to a rising second- and third-year students who is a member of the Black Law Students Association.

“For way too long, systemic racism and white supremacy have stymied the advancement of justice. This scholarship provides opportunities for Penn State Law students to engage in work to dismantle that injustice. My response in contributing my fair share, financially, is the least I can do,” said Engle.

In addition to supporting the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law, members of the Penn State Law Board of Advisors, Development Council, and Alumni Society Board collaborated to create two additional endowed diversity scholarships. The Board of Advisors established the Congressman John Lewis Educational Equity Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law which, with the University match, creates a $56,000 scholarship endowment. The Development Council and Alumni Society Board created the Congresswoman Barbara Jordan Educational Equity Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law which, with the University match, creates a $92,300 scholarship endowment.

“As the leaders of a relatively new alumni society, we were thrilled to engage in our first significant development effort and partner with the Development Council in establishing the Congresswoman Barbara Jordan Educational Equity Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law,” said Kevin McGarry, president of the Penn State Law Alumni Society Board. “As a board, we recognize that diversity of thought and experience are necessary components of any vibrant legal community, and the establishment of this scholarship fund helps to ensure that this diversity, which is celebrated at Penn State Law, will continue in perpetuity.”

In choosing to honor the life and legacy of Congresswoman Jordan, the Development Council and Alumni Society Board are inspired by her efforts to create a more equitable and just society.

“Congresswoman Jordan said, ‘Education remains the key to both economic and political empowerment.’ I am proud to be part of this important effort to honor her inspiring legacy and example,” said Elizabeth Carmen, Penn State Law in University Park Alumni Development Council member. “This scholarship will make it possible for talented Penn State Law students to follow in her footsteps as they expand the diverse voices that will shape and improve the future of our nation's system of justice.”

Faculty philanthropy is also making an important difference in Penn State Law’s efforts to support its students from diverse backgrounds. Professor Emerita Susan Beth Farmer established the Professor Emerita Beth Farmer Educational Equity Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law, which, with the University match, will establish a $50,000 endowment.

“My family has always valued education, striving for excellence, and giving back,” said Farmer. “My father was a first-generation college student, and I was the first to go to graduate school. Scholarships to support leadership, equity and diversity are one way I can give back. And, in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis, I can’t think of a more important time to give than now, to leave a legacy for those things I care about.”

These new scholarships at Penn State Law are notable for the community effort that went into creating them.

“Our faculty, staff, students and alumni came together to create impactful philanthropy that will make a meaningful difference for our current and future students from diverse backgrounds,” Osofsky said. “The collaborative approach embodies the ‘We Are’ that we so value at Penn State and is crucial to making needed progress.”

If you would like to contribute to the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund at Penn State Law, visit this link to make your online gift.  

These gifts will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated October 30, 2020