A record-breaking $50 million gift to George Mason University, announced Thursday, will go to the university’s Antonin Scalia Law School to support 13 new faculty members.
The gift is a bequest from the estate of the late Judge Allison M. Rouse in California and his wife Dorothy B. Rouse. Allison Rouse was an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, who also appointed Antonin Scalia to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and later to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Reagan appointed Rouse to be an associate justice of the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco in 1971. He retired from the bench in 1988 and worked for a decade as a private judge and arbitrator before he died in 2005 at the age of 86. Mrs. Rouse, also a lawyer, died in May at the age of 93. The Rouse estate gave the conservative Heritage Foundation a $43 million gift last September.
The gift to George Mason University is the largest in the school’s history, and it was reportedly the third-largest donation to any law school. A George Mason statement said the first largest gift was $135 million to the University of Arizona College of Law, and the second-largest gift was $100 million to the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
Thirteen new faculty chairs at the Scalia law school will be supported at the level of about $4 million each.
“This is a transformational gift that will further strengthen our law school’s position among the best in the nation and will provide a strong foundation for our university,” George Mason president Ángel Cabrera said.
Scalia Law School Dean Henry N. Butler also said in a statement, “Judge Rouse and Justice Scalia were both appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan, and Mrs. Rouse was an enthusiastic fan of Justice Scalia. Mrs. Rouse was proud to leave a legacy that supports the lasting scholarship and jurisprudence of Justice Scalia.”
The law school, founded in 1979 as part of George Mason University, a state school in Virginia, was named in honor of Scalia after his death in 2016. The law school has 44 full-time faculty members and a total enrollment of 525 students.
“The Rouses’ gift is a major investment in the intellectual capacity of the Scalia Law School and will enable Mason to recognize, recruit, and retain outstanding faculty members—many of whom are among the most astute legal minds in the country,” Mason Provost David Wu said. “These endowed faculty chairs will further strengthen our ability to provide top-notch legal education for our students.”