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Allen Matkins, Karina Hamilton, Mark Robinson, O’Melveny & Myers, Robert Hamilton, Robinson Calcagnie Robinson, University of California, Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of UCI Foundation / Voice of OC

TIMELINE November 18, 2007 – Erwin Chemerinsky faces the challenge of drumming up millions to open UC Irvine’s facility in 2009

One of Erwin Chemerinsky’s jobs as dean of UC Irvine’s new law school will be to create a reputation for legal scholarship for the school. But it’s his other job — chief fundraiser — that will either make or break the fledgling school.

Chemerinsky’s challenge — raising tens of millions of dollars to open the school in 2009, erect buildings and fund an endowment — comes at a time of unprecedented fundraising in higher education, and for law schools in particular.

Although the controversy over Chemerinsky’s recent hiring, firing and rehiring has raised questions about the leadership of UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, experts in philanthropy say it probably will have little or no effect on raising money.

“If they hadn’t rehired him, the school would have been finished . . . as far as academics is concerned,” said Brian Leiter, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin who blogs on issues affecting law schools. “If anything, the public at large now sees Erwin Chemerinsky as the greatest constitutional scholar of all time because he got so much good press. It might inspire donors.”

What will matter, experts say, is Chemerinsky’s lack of fundraising experience and the fact that UC Irvine’s law school has no alumni whose wallets it can tap.

………..

UCI already has three such commitments. The foundation of Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren gave $20 million, which got him naming rights. The Joan Irvine Smith & Athalie R. Clarke Foundation and Newport Beach attorney Mark P. Robinson Jr. pledged $1 million each.

“What is different for our law school is that for most universities, fundraising depends a great deal on the alumni base,” Chemerinsky said..

……….

Chemerinsky knows, however, that he will be the de facto development director as founding dean — a role he has never played before.

“I’m not very far along in conversations with donors,” he said. “I’m at Duke this year. I was committed to teach here before accepting the UC Irvine job.

“It’s hard to do that across the country,” Chemerinsky said. “Realistically, I’m not going to be able to be seriously involved in development until we get out there at the end of June. I so look forward to selling my dream to Orange County and Southern California.”

Chemerinsky said he is laying the groundwork for his fundraising effort by recruiting high-profile faculty who will inspire donors.

“We are talking to nine people seriously, all of them big names,” Chemerinsky said. “Our goal is to recruit a faculty equal to any top 10 or 20 law school.”

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Major donations — Source: UC Irvine

Gifts/pledges received by the UC Irvine Donald Bren School of Law as of Oct. 7.

$1 million-plus gifts/pledges

Bren Foundation: $20,000,000

Joan Irvine Smith & Athalie R. Clarke Foundation: $1,000,000

Mark Robinson: $1,000,000

Law firm pledges

Allen Matkins: $100,000

Anne Andrews: $100,000

Gibson Dunn: $100,000

Irell & Manella: $100,000

Jones Day Foundation: $100,000

Knobbe Martens: $100,000

Latham & Watkins: $100,000

Morrison & Foerster: $100,000

O’Melveny & Myers: $100,000

Payne & Fears: $100,000

Snell & Wilmer: $100,000

Winthrop Couchot: $25,000

Dorsey & Whitney: $17,500

Law Office of Michael Fields: $1,000

Norman H. Green: $100

Source @: http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/18/local/me-uci18

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About Leslie Brodie

Leslie Brodie is a reporter, writer, blogger, activist, and a religious leader in the community.

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