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University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Receives $2.2 Million Gift
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University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Receives $2.2 Million Gift

Summary: Rita E. Fordham left over $2 million in gifts from her estate to the law school, Deseret News reports.

It’s a great week for the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law: the school will receive a new endowed chairman and support for its loan forgiveness program, as well as its yearly debate program, due to a generous $2.2 million gift from the late Rita E. Fordham’s estate.


Ms. Fordham was Jefferson B. Fordham’s widow. Jefferson was a former University of Pennsylvania Law School dean, and was a distinguished professor at the school as well. At Ms. Fordham’s celebration of life last month, the gifts were announced.

Ms. Fordham’s will devised the gift to create and finance the Jefferson B. and Rita E. Fordham Presidential Dean’s Chair. An additional $100,000 will increase the endowment of the Fordham Loan Forgiveness program, which assists graduates who work in the public interest and public sectors pay off their burdensome loans.

Further, a separate $130,000 will endow the school’s Fordham Debate Program, which covers contemporary legal and public policy questions.

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Ruth Watkins, the senior vice president for academic affairs at the school, was thrilled with the gift: “The support for a distinguished chair allows us to compete for the best faculty talent and to reward and retain our most talented scholars at the University of Utah. These gifts promote excellence, and we are deeply grateful.”

Ms. Fordham began working at the school in 1957, as an administrative assistant to Dean Daniel Dykstra. She met Jefferson Fordham when he was on campus as a visiting professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law in the summer of 1963. They got married the following March and lived in Philadelphia until Mr. Fordham completed his deanship at the law school.

They returned to the school in 1970, and Mr. Fordham began a 19-year tenure. He passed away in 1994. Mrs. Fordham died in 2013.

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