On the evening of April 12, more than 700 members of the NYU Law community streamed into the violet-lit colonnaded entrance of the American Museum of Natural History for the Law School’s annual Weinfeld Gala. This year’s event was especially momentous: not only was the gala being held for the first time since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also served as a celebration of the successful conclusion of NYU Law’s record-breaking $540 million Lead the Way capital campaign.
Alumni, students, faculty, and administrators greeted one another in the rotunda, strolled past natural history dioramas, and clustered in front of elephants before gathering in the Hall of Ocean Life, with its iconic 94-foot-long model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling, for the formal program. The event served not only as the Weinfeld Gala but also the Annual Scholarship Reception. The hundreds of current students who attended had all benefited from some form of financial aid in their time at NYU Law, illustrating the immediate impact of the campaign.
After welcoming remarks by David Tanner ’84, chair of the Law School’s Board of Trustees and co-chair of the Lead the Way campaign, Dean Trevor Morrison offered his own welcome to those assembled. Thanking the trustees, NYU President Andrew Hamilton, faculty, and administrators for their support, Morrison noted that the Law School had bested its initial campaign goal—$450 million—by 20 percent. All of that fundraising, he reminded the crowd, was in service of NYU Law’s ambitious strategic plan, whose three pillars are the support of student success, the extension of the Law School’s tradition of innovative legal education, and the fostering of diversity and inclusion both at NYU Law and in the broader legal profession.
In the years since the campaign’s launch, Morrison said, the Law School had striven toward those goals by creating and bolstering programs to examine and combat inequality in the legal profession and to better prepare students entering the job market; establishing 15 new centers and increasing support for others; doubling the percentage of incoming JD students receiving scholarships, currently at 66 percent; increasing the stipends for 1Ls and 2Ls doing summer public interest work; and enhancing NYU Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program, LRAP Plus, to support graduates working in public service roles. Additionally, the Law School appointed nearly two dozen new faculty and created more than 80 named JD and LLM scholarships.
Morrison, marking his last year as dean after nine years in that position, ended on a more personal note. “I’ve said this many times before, but there will never be another job that means more to me than my time here as dean,” said Morrison. “Our law school is such a special place, and one that creates the kind of magnificent lawyers and leaders that go on to shape the world in profound and meaningful ways. I will forever be grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of the tremendous work we do and will continue to do for many years to come.”
President Hamilton presented the University’s Presidential Medal of Honor to Frank Guarini ’50, LLM ’55, who served seven terms in the US House of Representatives before his appointment as the US representative to the UN General Assembly. Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations Nick Vagelatos read remarks from Guarini, who was unable to attend in person. “I firmly believe that education is the most powerful weapon that you will be able to use in this unpredictable and ever-changing world,” Guarini said in his message to the gathering.
The debut presentation of a video encapsulating the institutional goals that inspired the Lead the Way campaign prompted applause as individual students, faculty, and alumni appeared onscreen. Further ovation greeted the student speaker, Talia Scott ’24, an Eric & Kimberly George Scholar within the AnBryce Program as well as a Jacobson Leadership Program in Law and Business Scholar, who described the importance of the support she had received for her legal studies.
Watch the video summarizing the Lead the Way campaign's achievements:
Judge Raymond Lohier ’91 of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a Law School trustee, introduced Jonathan Lippman ’68, former chief judge of New York and former chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, who was the recipient of the 2020 Judge Edward Weinfeld Award, which recognizes distinguished alumni of NYU Law. This year’s gala was a belated opportunity to honor Lippman, whose tenure as New York State’s chief judge was particularly notable for his championing of equal access to justice.
Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law Melissa Murray introduced the 2022 Weinfeld Award, given to Sara Moss ’74, a Law School trustee and vice chairman of the Estée Lauder Companies. Among other efforts, Moss has supported and established the Moss Women’s Leadership Training Program within NYU Law’s Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network.
In the evening’s closing remarks, Vagelatos thanked his fellow administrators, trustees, alumni, and faculty, but he saved his final words for those poised to continue the NYU Law tradition: “Our amazing students.… We’re in good hands because of you.”
Posted April 25, 2022