Kicking off the most ambitious fundraising drive in the history of legal education, Harvard Law School (HLS) leaders gathered last month to launch “Setting the Standard: The Harvard Law School Campaign.” At a formal kickoff luncheon, the campaign’s chairman, Finn M.W. Caspersen, announced that $170.1 million in commitments have already been secured toward a $400 million goal. These initial gifts total more than the entire $150 million goal of the Law School’s previous record-setting campaign.
“For nearly two centuries, Harvard Law School has set the standard for legal education,” said Caspersen, a 1966 graduate of the Law School. “This campaign will allow us to keep pushing the envelope of excellence, and reinforce Harvard Law School’s position as the world’s premier center for legal education and research.”
The campaign goals are rooted in the academic aspirations of a wide-ranging Strategic Plan developed by HLS faculty over a three-year period. The plan covers almost every aspect of the School’s mission and calls for significant funds to expand the faculty, enhance the student experience, strengthen research programs, improve physical facilities, and further internationalize the School.
“For the rule of law to be strengthened around the world, we must invest in institutions such as Harvard Law School,” said Dean Robert C. Clark, who initiated the strategic planning process. “This law school is at an important time in its history, just as we are at an important time in world history. We have a duty and an obligation to make sure that Harvard continues to produce superb legal education and scholarship. This is important, not just for Harvard Law School, but for society as a whole.”
In November, Clark announced that he would conclude his tenure as dean on June 30, citing the launch of the campaign as a “natural changeover point” for him to hand the reins to a successor. This past April, Professor Elena Kagan was appointed dean of the school. Kagan assumed the deanship on July 1.
“Harvard Law School is in a very strong position – both academically and financially – thanks to Bob Clark’s leadership,” said Kagan. “But we have much more to do if we are to fulfill all our potential to strengthen the legal profession and promote a just legal system. The funds we generate as part of this campaign will allow us to support the most cutting-edge and socially useful research, to provide the fullest and most meaningful set of educational opportunities, and to ensure that all students have the financial aid they need to attend the Law School and to follow any career path they desire.”
The announcement comes after a two-year quiet phase in which the School’s Strategic Plan was presented to alumni leaders and, based on the strength of the plan, initial campaign commitments were received.
The Law School’s previous fundraising campaign was launched in 1991. That campaign was completed in 1995, after surpassing its $150 million goal and raising $183 million.