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Assuming all goes well with the $30 million endowment campaign soon coming to closure at New York University School of Law, the number of students who are part of the prestigious Root-Tilden-Kern Scholarship Program in public interest law will jump from 12 this year to 20 next term. Financial support would likewise increase from two-thirds of the approximately $30,000 in annual tuition costs to 100 percent underwriting. “Optimistically, we’ll announce it on April 16,” Dean Richard L. Revesz said on Wednesday, “when we mark the 50th anniversary of Root.” The dean’s early news coincides with other initiatives at NYU Law that campus officials see as Mr. Revesz’s zealous commitment to the institution’s long-held motto, “A private university in the public service.” Among the first actions taken by Mr. Revesz on becoming dean in June 2001 was hiring Deborah A. Ellis to head the school’s Public Interest Law Center. Ms. Ellis, herself a Root scholar (Class of 1982), was given the title of assistant dean as a mark of increased status for the center. “Public interest law is fun, it’s in the newspapers,” Ms. Ellis said in an interview this week. Over the 50 years of Root, she added, “We’ve been able to put into our society a generation of lawyers who continue doing public good,” whether directly through government or social service agencies or pro bono work at private firms. With a background in litigation for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project and the National Organization for Women Legal Defense Fund, Ms. Ellis knows about headline-producing legal work. She listed these additional initiatives through the center: � A continuation this summer of last season’s guaranteed public interest grants for first- and second-year students. Last year, according to Mr. Revesz, funds were provided for 260 students. He expects as many this year. � Increased commitment to the campus Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Without divulging details, Mr. Revesz said the program would undergo “considerable expansion.” � Twenty fellowships of $50,000 each for recent graduates who would spend a year in Z�rich with the Claims Resolution Tribunal II, administrator of the Holocaust restitution settlement with Swiss banks under supervision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District. “We’ve been hiring people to do this work on evidentiary issues and drafting of opinions for two years, but now we’re making an effort to really speed up the process of settling some 33,000 claims on bank accounts,” said NYU Law Professor Burt Neuborne, director of the Brennan Center for Justice and part of the litigation team that won the $1.3 billion settlement. Ms. Ellis and others attribute the flurry of initiatives in public interest law to very personal interests on the part of Mr. Revesz, who grew up in Argentina as the son of European immigrants who fled the Holocaust with the clothes on their backs. Indeed, Mr. Revesz acknowledged the motivation. “I never would have been able to come to the United States if I hadn’t got a huge amount of aid from Princeton, where I was an undergraduate, and from Yale Law School,” he said. “They were extraordinarily generous with me, and that has opened doors for what I’ve done subsequently.” Additionally, Mr. Revesz’s wife is NYU Law Professor Vicki L. Been, a 1983 Root scholar and former clerk to the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun who is now faculty director of the Root-Tilden-Kern Scholarship Program. Long known as the Root-Tilden program � open to men only until 1969 � its 19th-century namesakes are Elihu Root, NYU class of 1867, a cabinet secretary under presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt and a Nobel laureate for contributions to international law; and Samuel Tilden, NYU class of 1841, a popular New York governor and the 1876 presidential standard-bearer for the Democratic Party. In 1999, Jerome Kern, a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, Katz & Kern, became the third namesake. Mr. Kern, who is now chief executive officer of Kern Consulting, has donated $5 million to the scholarship program. Root scholars through the decades include: � Donald Elliott, 1957, chairman of the New York City Planning Commission under Mayor John Lindsay. � Thomas Buergenthal, 1960, a member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. � Mindy Farber, 1977, former commissioner of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Office of Human Rights who now sits on the advisory board of NYU Law’s Center for Labor and Employment Law. � Elaine Fink, 1980, a former staff attorney with South Brooklyn Legal Services who is now a senior attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati. � Derwyn Bunton, 1998, senior staff attorney at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and a member of the American Bar Association’s advisory board for the Southern Juvenile Defender Center.

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