Robert “Bob” Toll L’66 was a brilliant and talented attorney and business leader with an abiding commitment to lawyering in the public interest and supporting University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students who sought to pursue public interest and government careers. Through the Robert and Jane Toll Foundation, Bob and his wife Jane GSE’66 have provided unprecedented support to the Law School’s global public interest community. The Tolls’ generosity has built access to public interest careers by expanding loan forgiveness, broadening pro bono programs, increasing summer fellowships, and bolstering scholarship funding.
“Bob’s enduring and transformative support of the Law School’s public interest programs has enabled us to educate, train, and launch the advocates needed to fight the world’s injustices,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law, of Toll’s remarkable legacy. “His vision and generosity have transformed Penn Carey Law and supercharged our ability to train and graduate attorneys who will make immediate and impactful contributions to the public good.”
Bob and his wife have long celebrated Penn Carey Law’s tradition and commitment to integrating public service into its legal education since its first formal public interest program was established in 1989. The program was among the first in the nation to enact a pro bono requirement to require all students to complete at least 70 hours of public service before graduation. The ABA recognized these efforts in 2000, naming Penn Carey Law the first law school ever to receive the organization’s Pro Bono Publico Award.
The Tolls’ visionary philanthropy resulted in a significant expansion of the public interest program at the Law School. In 2006, the Law School’s cornerstone of public interest programming was renamed the Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) in recognition of a $10 million gift from the Tolls that significantly expanded the vast array of pro bono and public service opportunities focusing on impactful service, personal enrichment, and professional skill development; TPIC has become an exceptional hub for public service at Penn.
The couple increased their support in 2011, generously providing $2.5 million to expand the loan forgiveness program for Penn Carey Law graduates who commit to careers in public service and to increase both pro bono programs and summer funding for students pursuing public interest careers. In 2015, they dedicated another $2.5 million gift to further support funding and resources for the public interest program. In 2018, the Tolls donated an additional $3 million to create and launch the Toll Public Service Corps, while also establishing Alumni Impact Awards and funding additional financial and career support for alumni through loan forgiveness and the existing Toll Loan Repayment and Assistance Program (TolLRAP).
“The public service program at Penn Carey Law was the beneficiary of Bob and Jane’s remarkable generosity and unwavering commitment to using the law as a tool for systemic reform,” said Mike Fitts, former Dean of the Law School. “They were focused on providing students with the opportunities they needed – whether through scholarships, pro bono projects, or fellowships – to develop into passionate advocates for change.
“Bob Toll exuded a genuine love for the Law School,” Fitts continued. “He shared our vision for the public service program, and I came away from our conversations with the sense that we were true partners in the effort to ensure the Law School’s place as the finest legal training ground in the country for public interest lawyers. I will always be grateful for his counsel, kindness, and foresight. He left a giant footprint.”
In 2020, the Robert and Jane Toll Foundation made a groundbreaking $50 million commitment to dramatically expand the Toll Public Interest Scholars and Fellows Program, doubling the number of future public interest graduates through a combination of full and partial tuition scholarships. The Toll Foundation’s $50 million gift is the largest gift in history devoted entirely to the training and support of public interest lawyers and is among the ten largest gifts ever to a law school in the United States.
“As savvy an investor as one could be, Bob Toll knew that if he invested in talented, mission-driven law students, they would work tirelessly to make a difference in this world,” said Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, former Executive Director of TPIC and current Associate Dean for Equity & Justice and Chief Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Advisor. “The impact of his gifts is long-lasting and immeasurable, as the students he has supported for decades continue to be a powerful force for change.”
With the support of the Tolls, the public interest program has thrived. During the 2021-2022 academic year alone, students completed 34,000 hours of pro bono work through 24 student-led projects. These partnerships spanned the country, addressed various client needs, and required flexibility and innovation in delivering free legal services. Such programming enhances student interest in public interest careers. The Tolls’ historic generosity has enabled Penn Carey Law to widen the gateways to service for students who will change the world for the better through their careers. The pinnacle of the Tolls’ philanthropy has been the Toll Public Interest Scholars and Fellows Programs, which reinforce Penn Carey Law’s commitment to service by increasing substantive programming and financial support for students pursuing public interest careers.
Emily Sutcliffe, Executive Director of TPIC, which oversees the Scholar and Fellow Programs, noted that “Bob was unwavering in his belief that our students can and do change the world for the better and he wanted to ensure that the cost of a legal education did not present barriers to public interest careers. It is because of Bob and Jane’s astounding generosity that the Toll Public Interest Scholars and Fellows programs were born, and it is the reason they have been able to grow and thrive.”
The student experience demonstrates the enduring impact of the Scholar and Fellow Programs.
“The Toll Public Interest Scholar Program has given me an opportunity to pursue my dream of being a public interest lawyer,” said Makayla (Reynolds) Harrison C’18, GEd’23, L’23. “Without this generous scholarship, I would not have had the opportunity to attend Penn and do work that I feel so passionate about. After law school, I will be pursuing a fellowship at the Education Law Center in Philadelphia, where I will fight to enforce the education rights of youth in psychiatric facilities.”
A member of the Board of Advisors of Penn Carey Law since 1992, Toll was also a former member of the Penn Board of Trustees and served as a law class agent, a member of the Advisory Council of the Biddle Law Library, chair of the Class of 1966 Reunion Committee, guest auctioneer for the Law School’s Equal Justice Foundation Auction, and a guest lecturer in real estate economics and corporate law. He was the 2005 recipient of the Law School’s Distinguished Service Award.
Outside of his work for Toll Brothers and Penn, Toll was a director of the Metropolitan Opera, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross, Abington Hospital, the Cornell Real Estate Council, Pennsylvania Campaign Choice, the Mayor’s Housing Partnership Council of Philadelphia, Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, and Seeds of Peace, a conflict resolution camp in Maine that aims to bridge cultural differences among children from the Middle East.
In sharing the news of Toll’s passing, Ruger said, “In the weeks and months ahead, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School will announce opportunities to remember and honor Bob Toll’s immense legacy at the Law School. His influence has already manifested and will live on for many decades in the hundreds of our students and graduates working in careers in the public interest and who have learned from and been supported by the programs he supported.”
Toll is remembered as the beloved husband of Jane; he is also remembered by children Laurie, Deborah, Rachel L’03, Jacob, and Joshua and twelve grandchildren.
Penn Carey Law fondly remembers Bob Toll’s impact on our Law School’s community and his tremendous dedication to public service.
I never got the opportunity to know Mr. Toll, but I enjoyed getting to know his daughter in law school and send my condolences to Rachel and her family.
Nora O’Neill L’03
Bob and I went back together 75 years, starting with being campers together at the summer camp in Maine which he later bought. While We were both at Penn Law, separated in class by 2 years, I helped him dispel his doubts about staying on to become a lawyer. I loved him dearly as a true friend, brother and the sincerest of philanthropists. I will miss him immensely when next summer arrives and we are not neighbors anymore on Pleasant Lake in Casco, Maine. R.I.P. “Bobby” from “Billy”.
Dr William T. Onorato, JD cum laude, 1964; Gowen Fellow, 1966-8
As a Toll Fellowship Scholar, I wanted to send my sincere thanks and condolences. What an incredible impact the Toll family made. Scholarships and Fellowships made possible thanks to you, have facilitated the public interest careers of so many. Together in our different ways, we are helping to make the world a better place, because of your belief in us. Thank you for your trust, support, and legacy. I pray that the family is surrounded by love during this difficult time.
Candice - L’09
I was blessed to receive a hefty scholarship to attend Penn Law as a Toll Scholar. I would not have been able to afford to attend Penn without this gracious scholarship. I was fortunate to meet and sit with Bob at a dinner honoring all scholarship recipients at the Law School. Bob and I had a great conversation all night. He was sharp and passionate about everyone at the table using there eventual law degrees for the good of humanity. The part of our conversation that I will always remember is him telling me to not chase the money and to focus on helping and serving people. He really spoke to my soul that evening and it has inspired me to always give back with my law degree. From board service to volunteering I always found ways to give back with my time at Penn and while working at law firms. I was so compelled by this moment with Bob that seven years later I now serve in the House of Delegates in Maryland as a state representative. I’m able to create policy with my legal knowledge and now distribute over $55,000 a year in scholarships to those in need. Bob impacted my life greatly. I know his spirit and legacy will live on forever.
Marlon D. Amprey- L’16 and a Toll Scholarship Recipient
We will miss him so dearly. Allowing students to work in public interest without carrying debt from law school was a lifetime goal of his, and we are grateful to Penn for being such a wonderful space for him to do such work. Thank you for keeping his memory alive.
Bruce Toll and family
A very accomplished life. I remember his father Al Toll who was a builder and a member of Ashbourne Country Club and so I remember Bob as a young boy running around the clubhouse.
Jules Silk, Wharton and Penn Law