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$2.5 million gift to law school aims to promote diversity

A $2.5 million gift from Mary E. and C. Robert Henrikson will double the reach of the Henriksons' endowed scholarship, which has promoted diversity in the student body at Emory School of Law since its inception a decade ago. The donation is the largest individual gift in the law school's history. Of the total amount, $1.5 million will go to the Henriksons' endowed scholarship fund. The remaining $1 million will be allocated for additional financial aid, and will serve as a challenge grant for matching gifts that will go to Emory Law's annual fund.

Increasing the diversity of the student body is a key priority of new Dean Robert A. Schapiro. Historically, Emory Law has had one of the most diverse student bodies among the nation's law schools.

"The Henrikson scholarship has been very important to our efforts to build a diverse class of talented students each year," Schapiro said. "This new gift will greatly extend the endowment's current reach. The Henriksons' commitment to emphasizing the rich diversity of our student body is an inspiration to the entire Emory Law community — faculty, alumni, students and staff."

Henrikson, who graduated from Emory Law in 1972, is former chair of the board, president, and CEO of MetLife Inc., and serves on the Board of Trustees of Emory University. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus by Emory Law in 2006.

"We established this scholarship fund at my alma mater so that, in addition to receiving an outstanding education, Emory Law students will benefit from an inclusive environment that values diversity and leverages differences," Henrikson explained when he originally endowed the scholarship fund. "We believe that the Emory Law experience prepares students to compete and excel in an interconnected and global marketplace for talent."

The C. Robert Henrikson Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in 2002 and has been an important resource supporting the recruitment of minority students.

"Many of these students have been the first members of their families to graduate from college and pursue a legal education," said Joella Hricik, Emory Law's associate dean for development and alumni relations. Typically, about one third of Emory Law's students come from ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in legal education.

The Henriksons' gift continues Emory's commitment to a diverse student body begun 50 years ago by Emory Law Dean Ben F. Johnson Jr.and Chair of the Emory Board of Trustees Henry L. Bowden Sr., who led the university's successful court challenge to racial segregation in Georgia's private colleges and universities.

After overcoming that hurdle, Johnson worked with the faculty to recruit African American students. Those efforts included the formation of Emory Law's Pre-Start program, a precursor of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, a national program that has recruited and helped prepare more than 8,000 students for success in law school since its inception in 1968.

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