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A message from Dean Ted Ruger to Law School students and alumni

November 18, 2019

Law School entrance
Law School entrance

Dear Law School students and alumni, 

Just over a week ago we announced a historic and transformative $125 million gift from the W. P. Carey Foundation, the largest ever in legal education. In addition to its many ties to and longstanding support of the University of Pennsylvania, the Carey Foundation is a leading philanthropic supporter of education. 

I am writing to you in response to feedback the Law School and University have received regarding the gift and the renaming of the Law School to the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, and the short-form name of Carey Law, in particular. Some reactions have been very positive, some very critical, and others wonder what the future of legal education at Penn will look like thanks to these tremendous resources. All of your responses are heartening in demonstrating how deeply you care about this institution and the abiding affinity you have for it.

Much of the conversation has centered on concerns over the short-form name, instead of a focus on how the Carey Foundation gift will be used. We have heard you. Like all of you, my colleagues and I care deeply about the Law School’s history, tradition, and reputation in the academy, profession, and across the globe. Therefore, consistent with the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, which is our official name, the Law School will continue to use Penn Law as our short-form name until the start of the 2022-23 academic year, after which we will use Penn Carey Law, thereby embracing both tradition and transformation.

Most importantly, this historic gift positively impacts past, present, and future students of the Law School. It places Penn at the forefront of preparing students to be successful advocates and leaders in the law and the myriad disciplines with which it interconnects, such as business, health, technology, and public policy. Among other areas, it will allow us to increase student financial support for historically underrepresented students, expand our already outstanding pro bono and public service programming, continue to recruit preeminent professors, and amplify the Future of the Profession Initiative. We are confident this gift will provide for the expansion and furtherance of our programs to ensure that Penn will be the foremost leader in legal education.

As we reflect on the origin of this gift, we remember that Frank Carey, L’49, the first President of the W. P. Carey Foundation, always believed that his experience at Penn fundamentally transformed his life and career. Our commitment to respect tradition and celebrate transition honors his experience here, and advances the vision that current and future students and alumni of the Law School will have dramatically enhanced and outstanding experiences themselves. 

In the coming weeks and months, I will announce a variety of opportunities for Penn Law students and alumni, and faculty and staff, to collaborate with me and others toward a shared goal of putting into practice the immensely positive impact of the Foundation’s gift on this institution, on legal education, and on our profession. I look forward to working with you, and I thank you for your ongoing engagement with, and support of, your law school.


Ted Ruger
Dean & Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law