Stanford University. Photo: Jason Doiy.


Students at Stanford Law School will soon be able to spend an entire quarter studying business in different Asian markets, complete with a two- to three-week faculty-led trip there.

The so-called global quarter will kick off in 2020 and is part of an expanded slate of global law programs being funded with a $25 million donation from alum and airline executive William Franke, which Stanford announced Monday. It’s the single largest gift from an alum of the law school.

“No other law school offers this kind of intense immersion overseas that this program will provide our students,” said Robert Daines, associate dean for global programs in an announcement of Franke’s donation and the global quarter. “With the global quarter, a global foundational course, intensive overseas study trips and greater integration of transnational law into existing core courses, Stanford Law is shaping the future of legal education by ensuring that every student has the opportunity to cultivate a global perspective.”

Students enrolled in the global quarter will spend six weeks studying business in China, Singapore and Asia on the Palo Alto campus. They then will travel to the region for two or three weeks with senior faculty to learn about international business transactions. While abroad, they will meet and work with lawyers, politicians, students and business leaders.

“We are profoundly grateful for the extraordinary investment, which will allow us to permanently transform the educational experience at Stanford Law School,” said dean Elizabeth Magill. “As a result of this visionary gift, our graduates will have an educational experience that reflects the global world we live in, and they will be ready to lead in an increasingly complex and borderless world.”

Franke graduated from Stanford Law School in 1961, and his latest donation honors the law school’s 125th anniversary. After obtaining his law degree, Franke embarked on a long career of corporate leadership, including stints as chief executive officer of Southwest Forest Industries; chairman of Circle K; chief executive officer of America West; and chairman of Spirit Airlines. He also founded private equity fund Indigo Partners. He has made sizable donations to Northern Arizona University and the University of Montana. At Stanford Law, Franke previously endowed a professorship in law and business.

The law school’s global initiative is being renamed the W.A. Franke Global Law Program.

“I’m excited by the law school’s vision to make Stanford Law a true incubator for the next generation of global leaders,” Franke said. “My hope is this gift will add a layer of global preparedness to the education offered at Stanford and will help continue the tradition of sending [Stanford Law School] graduates into the world able to tackle pressing issues and add value in the global arena.”