Celebrating The Campaign for Columbia Law
Eric H. Holder Jr. ’76 delivered the keynote address at the event held at Rainbow Room on January 31.
With sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, Columbia Law School celebrated the culmination of its successful five-year Campaign For Columbia Law on January 31. The ambitious fundraising effort raised $325 million—exceeding the original goal of $300 million—to bolster support for students and faculty, expand experiential learning opportunities, and reimagine the Law Library.
“The support that we received is a vote of confidence—an affirmation that Columbia Law School is stronger and that our future is brighter than ever,” said Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, as she welcomed alumni, faculty, students, and friends of the Law School to the celebration. “For generations, Columbians have played a pivotal role in shaping and advancing our society and its most critical institutions, both here in the U.S. and around the world. Your support ensures that Columbians will continue to be a force in the world.”
The 82nd Attorney General of the United States, Eric H. Holder Jr. ’76, delivered the keynote address, acknowledging that Columbia Law School “defined me in ways that I am still realizing almost 50 years later.”
Throughout his professional life, Holder said, he has seen that most trusted lawyers are called upon not for their technical knowledge but for their judgment. “Judgment requires listening,” he said. “Not just hearing the words that others are saying but critically assessing their position; being able to interact with people different than yourself. This is the essence of my law school.”
Holder thanked the Law School community for its support of the campaign, saying that it will allow Columbia Law to “continue to chart the course of not just individual students’ careers but the future of the law, business, and public policy for decades to come,” work that he acknowledged remains critical.
“In a time where our democracy is challenged, where race is still a defining negative factor, where women still struggle for equality, and where established precedent gives way to court personnel, this school—Columbia Law School—must remain a bulwark for reasoned discourse, effective action, and a fierce commitment to the rule of law,” he said.
Holder was introduced by Rubí Rodriguez ’24, a recipient of the Greene Public Service Scholarship, which provides three-year, full-tuition scholarships to two public service minded students from each entering class. The establishment of the Greene Scholarships was part of a $15 million gift from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, which helped kick off the campaign in 2017.
Rodriguez recalled learning she had received the scholarship, calling it “a life-changing moment—one that afforded me the ability to be in an academic setting for the first time without debilitating financial insecurity.” She said that the support “gives me the confidence to make strides as a budding lawyer. It helps me feel like I truly belong in the legal profession, which can be an intimidating environment to historically underrepresented law students.”
The evening began with welcome remarks from Lee C. Bollinger ’71, Columbia University President and Seth Low Professor of the University. “It goes without saying, particularly to this audience, that the Law School is a point of tremendous pride for Columbia, that the quality and impact of its students, faculty, and staff elevate the entire institution,” he said, adding that supporting the work of the Law School, in particular its commitment to engage with the world’s most pressing challenges, is “critically important.”
Referencing the campaign video (above), Dean Lester added, “Because of the generosity of all of you in this room tonight, we can proudly say that Columbia Law School is a force for the future.”
Below, see images from the event, watch remarks from the celebration, and read related stories: