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Vermont Law School Raises Record 18.4 Million in Capital Campaign

July 9, 2012

Vermont Law School President and Dean Jeff Shields and Matt Rizzo, executive director of VLS's Office of Institutional Advancement, on Tuesday announced the successful completion of the largest capital campaign in the school's history.

center for legal services

Center for Legal Services

The three-year campaign, which ended June 30, raised $18.4 million, surpassing the goal of $15 million by more than 20 percent. The money will contribute to a wide range of projects, many directly supporting VLS's top-ranked environmental program and its top-tier clinical programs. Funding came from nearly 3,000 supporters, including Vermont's congressional delegation --U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch -- who were instrumental in making the campaign a success.

"I am heartened by the breadth of support we received during this campaign," said Shields.  "This was a team effort on behalf of Vermont Law School by many people who recognize what we do for the state of Vermont, for our students and for the advancement of the rule of law at home and abroad. We received terrific help from alumni, parents, friends, the bar, students, foundations, faculty, institutional supports and our congressional delegation. I especially want to single out Jimmy Hanson, our Board capital campaign chair, and Ed Mattes, the chair of our Board, for their first-rate leadership of a Board that unanimously participated in this campaign. Matt Rizzo led a top-notch team in Institutional Advancement, and I am also grateful for the hard work of our campaign co-director, Dorothy Heinrichs. Our campus leadership on this campaign was crucial to its success."

President and Dean Jeff Shields

President and Dean Jeff Shields

The campaign was launched by a key gift from Trustee Fran Yates that helped purchase the former Freck's department store in South Royalton. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was renamed the Center for Legal Services and was renovated with the strict environmental standards for which VLS is known. The Center is one of the largest buildings on the 16-building campus and houses the South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC), the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC), other clinical programs and the school's book store.

Professor Margaret Barry, associate dean for Clinical and Experiential Programs, said: "Now we have an exceptional clinical education space for our excellent clinical programs." Clinical work in the building will include immigration law, family law and general poverty law through the South Royalton Legal Clinic, and environmental law through the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic.

 Shields said Sen. Leahy helped to secure key federal funding for the SRLC and the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, which is strengthening environmental rule of law in China through cooperative programs with several of China's top law schools. Sen. Sanders also secured key federal funding for VLS's clinical programs, and Rep. Welch was instrumental in obtaining funding for the Institute for Energy and the Environment to provide legal and policy analysis of smart grid technology, said Shields.

Image of Barry

Professor Margaret Barry

The campaign also secured several million dollars for general support and endowment. "To raise this amount of money in these very difficult financial times is quite amazing," said Board Chairman Edward C. Mattes, Jr. '83. "It required a very broad effort with all hands on deck. Clearly, there is tremendous recognition of the importance of the work of the law school."

The campaign was chaired by Trustee James E. Hanson '83, who led the process of setting environmental programs, campus infrastructure, clinical opportunities and student aid as the campaign's priorities. "For a school of this size and age to exceed its very ambitious fundraising goal in what was a terrible time to be raising money is quite remarkable," said Hanson, a New Jersey real estate finance and management executive. "I am most excited about the opportunities this effort provides our students -- more robust programs, more scholarship money, wonderful new buildings.

Professor Marc Mihaly,

Professor Marc Mihaly,
incoming Dean and President

Shields will retire Aug. 1 and teach law next year at Cambridge University.VLS's incoming president and dean, Professor Marc Mihaly, said: "It is wonderful to start my deanship at a time when such a large part of the VLS community has tangibly expressed its support for what is going on here. We will put these resources to good use as VLS continues to lead the way in so many areas of legal education and research."

Campaign facts:

Funds raised: $18.4 million
Participation by Trustees: 100 percent
Number of alumni making gifts: 1,745
Parents making gifts: 923
Foundations making gifts: 52

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