UMN law school gets $9 million, will establish immigration law center

New money, new center (MPR Photo / Tim Post)

Just got this announcement from the University of Minnesota. I’m not usually one to post about donations, but this is sizable — and comes on the heels of the Dream Act.

Robina Foundation pledges $9 million to University of Minnesota Law School
Funding to Provide Additional Support for Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Plus New Support to Create the University of Minnesota Law School Center for New Americans

With receipt of almost $9 million from the Robina Foundation, the University of Minnesota Law School has received one of the largest gifts in its history. The gift will be divided evenly to support two Law School programs: the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice and a new University of Minnesota Law School Center for New Americans, an immigration law center.  Together, these gifts will support work that has the potential to help millions of people.

“We are immensely grateful for the ongoing support we’ve received from the Robina Foundation,” said Dean David Wippman. “This generous gift will help sustain the Law School’s reputation as an international leader in legal education and build on our history of public service and outstanding scholarship.”

In making the announcement, Wippman noted the Law School’s long tradition of offering practical training for students through one of the nation’s largest clinical programs. “The new immigration law center underscores the mission of the Law School’s clinics to address pressing societal needs,” said Wippman. The Law School’s clinical program is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

The funding for the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice will build on previous gifts from the Robina Foundation, which established the Institute in 2011. The additional $4.5 million will augment the Institute’s work on criminal law reform.  The gift from Robina will make it possible to accelerate and expand research and advocacy on sentencing law reforms that enhance public safety while reducing inequities, cost, and some of the burdens of incarceration.  The University of Minnesota Law School faculty are known, nationally, for their research on sentencing systems in the U.S., and the effects of these systems on public safety, sentencing proportionality, racial and ethnic disparities, and imprisonment rates.

The gift to establish the University of Minnesota Law School Center for New Americans will create a new collaborative initiative with leading area law firms and non-profits, led by the Law School, to respond to critical legal and social needs of diverse immigrant groups. The Law School will work with law firms and non-profit organizations to expand urgently needed legal services to immigrant communities and to pursue litigation that leads to improving the laws affecting immigrants.  The center, which will be the first of its kind among law schools, will also be home to the nation’s most dynamic and comprehensive immigration clinic for law students, offering students outstanding opportunities to gain experience in litigation, policy development and advocacy, and community outreach and education.

The Robina Foundation’s gift represents a major contribution to the Law School’s GENERATIONS fundraising campaign, a seven-year effort to raise $70 million.  This gift augments previous Robina support for faculty positions and research, a public interest scholars program, student scholarships, and the Law School’s Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.