Chapman University School of Law is being renamed The Dale E. Fowler School of Law following a $55 million donation from its new namesake. The gift appears to be the second-largest ever to a U.S. law school, after a donation of more than $100 million to the University of Arizona’s law school in the late 1990s by alumnus and broadcasting executive James E. Rogers.
Fowler is a real estate developer who made his fortune in residential and industrial real estate development primarily in Orange County, Calif., where Chapman is located. He is not an alumnus of the law school, but did graduate from Chapman University at the same time that he was launching his real estate business. The Fowler’s two children also graduated from Chapman University.
“As a Chapman alumnus, I’m honored to be able to have an impact on generations of students to come,” Fowler said. “We are enthusiastic about the law school’s commitment to creating a positive atmosphere for business in all its realms of influence.”
Fowler’s gift is the second largest on record for a law school in the United States, according to the school.
This won’t be the first campus to bear the Fowler name. In 2007, he and his wife, Sarah Ann, donated $60 million to Gordon College—a small, Christian, liberal arts college in Wenham, Mass. That campus was renamed the Dale E. and Sarah Ann Fowler Campus.
Chapman law dean Tom Campbell said the money would help secure the future of the law school and enable it to strengthen its curriculum and bring in top faculty.
“For our law school, it is the most definitive statement possible that we are here to stay and prosper,” Campbell said. “After a start only 18 years ago, the law school will now be to be known as the Dale E. Fowler School of Law will take its place among the established, long-range focused schools in the country.”
The law school plans to “reinforce its commitment to practical legal training” and help bring down tuition costs for students, he added.
The formal renaming will be marked with a ceremony on September 10 featuring former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz.
“As I reflect on their business successes and even more their transformative philanthropic contributions not only to Chapman but to higher education, I am even more proud that the Fowler name will forever be connected with out law school,” university president James Doti said.
It has been two years since a law school last changed its name to honor a donor. In 2011 alone, Hofstra University’s law school became the Maurice A. Deane School of Law following a $20 million donation; the University of Maryland’s law school became the Francis King Carey School of Law following a $30 million gift; and Indiana University’s Indianapolis law school was renamed the Robert H. McKinney School of Law after receiving a $24 million donation.