A record gift of more than $50 million to George Mason University’s law school will establish a permanent endowment to fund 13 new faculty chairs, the school announced Thursday.
The gift to the university’s Antonin Scalia Law School is the largest in George Mason’s history and comes from the estate of the late judge Allison Rouse and his wife, Dorothy Rouse, a lawyer. The couple did not have academic ties to George Mason, said Kathleen Corcoran, a law school spokeswoman.
George Mason President Ángel Cabrera said in a news release: “This is a transformational gift that will further strengthen our law school’s position among the best in the nation and will provide a strong foundation for our university.”
Allison Rouse met Dorothy while the pair were at law school at the University of San Francisco. They married in 1952 and lived in California.
Dorothy Rouse, who died in May 2018 at age 93, was an “enthusiastic fan” of Scalia’s, Henry N. Butler, dean of George Mason’s law school, said in the release. She spent most of her career with the San Mateo County district attorney’s office, Corcoran wrote in an email.
In 1971, Allison Rouse was appointed an associate justice of the California Courts of Appeal by Ronald Reagan, who was governor of California at the time. He died in 2005.
“Mrs. Rouse was proud to leave a legacy that supports the lasting scholarship and jurisprudence of Justice Scalia,” Butler stated.
George Mason — and gifts to the institution — have recently been the focus of additional scrutiny, amid concerns about academic freedom. That debate was primarily focused on the controversial Charles Koch Foundation and gifts to George Mason’s economics department, but funding to the law school also drew attention in 2016, when gifts led to the renaming of the law school for Scalia, a Supreme Court associate justice who had died earlier that year. Some of that funding came from the Charles Koch Foundation.
Last year, a panel reviewed philanthropic giving and examined more than 300 donor agreements. It did not find any “egregious practices” in the pacts, a report indicated.