About half the entering class of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law is receiving scholarship money this year, after an alumnus’ $1.5 million fundraising challenge turned into a $4.5 million windfall for scholarships.
UF alumnus Hugh Culverhouse Jr., son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse, last spring pledged $1.5 million for incoming student scholarships if the law school’s community raised an additional $1.5 million by Aug. 14, the first day of classes. In June, UF Provost Joe Glover promised an additional $1.5 million contribution if UF alums met the original goal. UF Law Dean Laura Ann Rosenbury said 1,437 donors contributed another $1.5 million by the start of school last week.
Rosenbury said all the scholarships are for three years, but they range widely in amount depending on each student’s academics. Rosenbury credited the school’s leap in national rankings last year to an increase in academic scholarships that attracted top students. She said last year the school recorded the largest increase in median GPA and median LSAT of any top 50 law school.
Culverhouse, a Coral Gables-based lawyer who graduated from the law school in 1974, said he was inspired to create the Culverhouse Challenge by the school’s leap from 48 to 41 in the most recent U.S. News & World Report national rankings of law schools. It was the highest-ranked law school in Florida, followed by the law schools at Florida State University (48), University of Miami (77), Stetson (96) and Florida International University (100). Six more Florida law schools were not ranked.
Rosenbury, who took her post in July 2015, had publicly vowed last year to raise the school’s ranking, then 48th, to the mid-30s within three to five years. She said Thursday she’s confident that next spring the law school will break into the 30s.