A recent gift of $100 million to the Northwestern University School of Law by alumnus and venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker is not only the largest gift ever received by the school, but the largest received by any law school. The $100 million gift from Pritzker and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, was announced Oct. 22 to a packed auditorium at the school. The 156-year-old school will be known as the Pritzker School of Law, and the generous gift will benefit future law students, as well as support several social justice centers.
In his remarks at the event announcing the gift, J.B. Pritzker said a legal education is about much more than learning a trade. It's also about enabling people to give back in ways they could not without the education they received. Pritzker has lived this belief. A 1993 graduate of the law school at Northwestern that will now bear his name, Pritzker is co-founder and managing partner of the Pritzker Group, one of the most successful venture capital firms in the nation.
Pritzker is also a philanthropic giant. Readers of this space will recognize him as one of the leading advocates and funders of early childhood education. He recently co-authored a paper on kindergarten readiness, helped bankroll the First Five Years Fund, and has repeatedly urged policymakers to place early learning higher on the nation's agenda.
The Pritzkers' philanthropic interests are not limited to early childhood education, but extend to various issues of law and social justice. The $100 million gift to Northwestern will make it easier for top students, regardless of financial circumstances, to get a legal education at Northwestern. It will also fund a series of social justice centers at the school. These include the Center on Wrongful Convictions, the Children and Family Justice Center, the Center on International Human Rights, and the Environmental Law Center. The gift will rename the law school's Entrepreneurship Law Center as the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurial Law Center in honor of J.B. Pritzker's father, the co-founder and chief executive of Hyatt Hotels Corporation.