Alumni and Friends Meet Jerome L. Greene Foundation Challenge to Endow 50 New Scholarships

Gifts matched by a $5 million challenge grant from the foundation add $10 million for endowed student aid.

Columbia Law School’s commitment to making a world-class legal education accessible for any qualified student has been significantly bolstered by the successful completion of the two-year Greene Scholarship Challenge. The Jerome L. Greene Foundation is matching dollar-for-dollar 50 gifts of $100,000 each from Columbia Law alumni and friends.

“With an additional 50 new scholarships and $10 million invested in financial aid, we are making a huge impact to ensure that the very best students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds can attend Columbia Law School and have access to the finest legal education in the world,” says Columbia Law School Dean Gillian Lester, the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law.

The named, endowed scholarships will help the Law School continue to address issues of access and affordability as part of its goal of raising $100 million for student aid—scholarships, postgraduate fellowships, guaranteed summer funding for internships, and loan repayments for graduates in public service careers—during the $300 million Campaign for Columbia Law. Since 2015, the percentage of first-year students receiving financial aid has increased from less than half to nearly two-thirds.

The 50 donors include alumni who graduated from the Law School between 1955 and 2003, as well as friends of the Law School. They could choose to name their scholarships for themselves, their families, or a beloved professor.


Leaving a Legacy

One of the supporters, Scott Yagoda CC ’86, LAW ’92, says the Greene challenge motivated him to make his pledge this year to create the Yagoda Family Scholarship. “To have my gift doubled by the Greene Foundation was too good an opportunity to pass up,” says Yagoda, who is general counsel, executive vice president, and chief administrative officer of Vitaquest LLP. “Creating an endowed scholarship is very satisfying. It means that no matter what else I do with my life, I have left a legacy that will benefit someone who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend Columbia Law School.”

Yagoda says he did not want to wait until the end of his life to make a major bequest to the Law School. “I wanted to be able to see the fruits of my gift,” he says. “And it was important for me to give back to the Law School. I was a first-generation law student, and without my Columbia Law School education, I would have never had the opportunity to follow a career path that has provided me with professional and personal satisfaction.”


Jerome Greene, in a portrait displayed in Jerome Greene Hall.
Jerome Greene, in a portrait displayed in Jerome Greene Hall.

The scholarship challenge was part of a $15 million gift from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, which also established the Greene Public Service Scholars with an endowment of $7 million to provide full-tuition scholarships to help outstanding students prepare for careers in government, nonprofit organizations, academia, social entrepreneurship, or community development. The gift also included $3 million to establish the Greene Clinical Professorship, which was bestowed on Elora Mukherjee, the founder and director of the Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and a nationally recognized advocate for refugees, asylum seekers, and children seeking special immigrant juvenile status.

“We’re grateful for Dean Lester’s leadership and impressed by the Law School’s commitment to this scholarship challenge,” says Christina McInerney, president and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation.

“By attracting outstanding students from an ever-widening community of applicants, Columbia secures its role as a preeminent law school in our nation. I am personally pleased to be able to continue the tradition begun by Jerry Greene ’28 and fostered by my mother, Dawn Greene, whose support for Columbia University and the Law School ran deep.”

The Jerome L. Greene Foundation supports select programs that make a significant impact on the lives of all New Yorkers in the areas of the arts, education, medicine, and social justice. Its 40-year history is grounded in the vision of its founder, Jerry Greene, to give back to the city he loved. Today, the foundation honors this commitment by continuing to fund quality programs and by identifying new ways to increase access to the arts and to education, create opportunity for ground-breaking medical research, and help ensure social justice for all. 

These recent gifts to the Law School are part of the Greene Foundation’s legacy of support to the Columbia community. In 2006, the foundation pledged a record $250 million for the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, the highly acclaimed state-of-the-art facility designed by Renzo Piano that opened in 2017 as a home for neuroscience research and education on the University’s new Manhattanville campus.

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Published on July 15, 2019