George Mason University

News at Mason

Scholarships from Scalia Law School gift change lives

October 5, 2016   /   by Buzz McClain

Second-year law student Tim Rodriguez received a scholarship from the Antonin Scalia Law School. Photo by Ron Aira,

The dedication of the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School represents a milestone in the 37-year-old school’s history. The $20 million anonymous gift that inspired the name change, as well as an accompanying $10 million gift from the Charles Koch Foundation, are earmarked for scholarships that will enhance the school’s diversity and stature while benefitting students.

“These scholarships will provide opportunities for hundreds of students from diverse backgrounds to attend a Top 50 law school near our nation’s capital,” George Mason President Ángel Cabrera said. “Without this gift, a law degree from Mason might have been an unattainable dream for some. This funding evidences the power of philanthropy, and the power of opportunity.”

The combined $30 million in gifts have allowed the university to establish three scholarship programs:

  • The Antonin Scalia Scholarship for Academic Excellence, which is award to students with excellent academic credentials
  • The A. Linwood Holton Jr. Leadership Scholarship, which honors the former governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is awarded to students who have overcome barriers to academic success, demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities or helped others overcome discrimination in any facet of life
  • The F. A. Hayek Law, Legislation and Liberty Scholarship, named in honor of the 1974 Nobel Prize winner in economics and awarded to students who have demonstrated interest in studying the application of economic principles to the law.

“The generous gifts for scholarships will enable the Antonin Scalia Law School to recruit students who will become tomorrow’s leaders, positively impacting their lives and the future direction of law in America,” said Henry N. Butler, dean of the law school. “Our diversity will be heightened, creating an even stronger intellectual atmosphere and enhancing the exceptional education students receive.”

Tim Rodriguez, a second-year student from Cleveland, who said he was one of the few Hispanics at his high school and the University of Missouri, said the A. Linwood Holton Jr. scholarship does more than finance his degree.

“[The scholarship] recognizes my hard work, but it also goes to improving diversity in higher education and at law firms in general. It’s an important step,” he said. “To be part of that is important to me, not only for my heritage but also for my point of view and life experiences.”

Scalia Law’s location was also important to Rodriguez as he wanted to be “near the nexus of policymaking, politics and law. Mason seemed like an obvious choice, and it’s only been reinforced by the amazing professors and fellow students I’ve met.”

For Katherine McKerall, a first-year student from Gulf Shores, Ala., and the mother of two daughters, her scholarship is vital to reaching her goal of obtaining a law degree.

“As a nontraditional student, this scholarship has been invaluable to me,” she said. “The extra costs of raising a family while attending law school would have been too much without it. This scholarship is giving me a chance to finally fulfill a lifelong dream.” 

First-year student Kasey Chapman, 26, an Oklahoma native who was inspired to study law after two years of assisting refugees in European hot spots, said his scholarship is important to the work he wants to do in the future.

“There is absolutely no way I could attend a school of this caliber in the Washington, D.C., area without the scholarship,” said Chapman. “The funding allows me to be here and pursue my goal of working with refugees.

“This scholarship means the world.”