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September 18, 2014


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Duquesne must be anguished.


Duquesne's on the complete other end of the state (in Pittsburgh; Drexel's in Philly). I seriously doubt that their student or faculty applicant pools overlap to any significant degree.

Former Editor

I think twbb's point is that Mr. Kline is a Duquesne alumnus, yet he gave this enormous donation to Drexel. Someone in Institutional Advancement at Duquesne is probably updating their resume right now.


Oh. Ouch...


Universities generally and law schools specifically are some of the least deserving of 'charitable' gifts. For $50mm you actually could employ some newbie lawyers in a community outreach program providing legal services to the indigent. At $50k per lawyer, times 10 lawyers, even with another couple hundred thousand annually in overhead, you could fund a decent size legal team to help the poor areas of philly for the better part of the next several decades. Or you could fund law school administrators' summer homes.

Wealthy donors, if you feel like donating to a university, at least donate to the science or medical schools to fund research. Virology needs 'scholarship' dollars; a critical legal analysis of virology does not.


Jojo - I agree, it's a waste of money. But upon further thought, it is unwise to consider this as a gift designed to help people. It is really about this guy's vanity, and having a school named after him. No different than if he erected a $50 million gold statute of himself on his front lawn. It would be hilarious if Drexel fails in a decade anyway, which is totally possible even considering this gift.


I'm sure the money is conditional on using it to expand the school but over a decade period $50 million goes fast, particularly when you dramatically expand faculty and facilities. If Drexel really wanted to improve their rankings they could use the money to buy out the higher paid faculty, and contract their student body, then give everyone a full ride. Throw in a free dorm and you could get elite applicants right away.



Most elite students will choose between paying full price at Stanford or a full scholarhip at UCLA. There is nothing Drexel could offer them to make them come there, even if they agreed to pay cost of living. If they did this, they would get students in the 3.7/168 range, which is very solid but not spectacular (~median for a t15-20 school).

Also, giving everyone a full ride plus living expenses would cost probably $30 million/year (assuming 3 full classes of full scholarship students). So they'd burn through the money awfully quick.

If they were really smart, which they aren't, they would put this money in an endowment and use it to cover the budget gap every year for the next 20 years. They would wait out the collapse of many of their peers, and become part of a smaller, sustainable group of schools.

Instead, they will likely use the money to make a splash and gain attention. A new center will be created, as well as some infrastructure updates if not an entire new building. The money will be gone in 5-7 years, and they will be in a worse position then when they started.



Exactly right.

Good management is not the strength of law schools.

Faculty involvement makes it much, much worse.


"If they did this, they would get students in the 3.7/168 range, which is very solid but not spectacular (~median for a t15-20 school)."

That's what I meant by "elite"; I certainly did not mean Harvard/Yale/Stanford reputation. There's no way Drexel will ever reach that.

"Also, giving everyone a full ride plus living expenses would cost probably $30 million/year (assuming 3 full classes of full scholarship students). So they'd burn through the money awfully quick."

Agreed, though that's why I said they should shrink their student body. Get it down to a student body of 70 people and contract the faculty and administration and you could almost swing it on the interest. Add in alumni donations and you might be able to swing it. Yes, a little unrealistic but you could certainly have it last at least a decade, after which point maybe charge low tuition after the reputation has been amped up.

"Instead, they will likely use the money to make a splash and gain attention. A new center will be created, as well as some infrastructure updates if not an entire new building. The money will be gone in 5-7 years, and they will be in a worse position then when they started."

Totally agree. There will be fancy centers and fancy classrooms and very nice administrative offices, but in 7 years the money will be gone and they'll have much larger expenses because of the expansion.

The funny thing is, I'm sure that unless they negotiated with the university administration beforehand, it's going to start taking much bigger chunks of tuition dollars from the law school to subsidize other departments on the grounds that they can afford it now.

Ray Campbell

I'm not understanding the view that this will have no lasting impact. I think it is a transformative gift for a young law school. In an over-served legal education market, $50 million cash says Drexel will survive the current storm - if you were looking at all the Philly area schools and wondering who might throw in the towel if things don't bounce back, the clear answer now is 'not Drexel.' In terms of institutional uses, they don't need to become top 20. They are not going pass Penn as the local prestige school. Within the Philly/PA/mid-Atlantic markets, though, they have lots of comparably ranked and situated competitors, and this will give them an edge. It will tell young faculty with options, who view Philly as a great place to live, that they don't need to worry about institutional stability and that the school is poised to get better. It will allow them to offer career preparation programs such as advanced trial ad that I expect have very high relevance to the kinds of practices Drexel grads might shoot for. It will allow them to give a free ride not to whole classes, but to enough above the grade students to nudge them up a bit, year by year, in the rankings. I think this is great news for Drexel, and worrisome news for Villanova, Temple, Widener, etc..


Ray - of course it could be transformative. The question is: will it be? Only if the administration maximizes these resources, and spends them down very carefully. The more likely scenario is that the administration will think "I need to spend this money now to cement my legacy," and the money will be gone on frivolous expenditures in a few short years.

Ray Campbell

I don't know the administrators at Drexel all that well, but I've met the dean and some others, and they seemed to pretty sharp to me. I don't see why anyone would jump right to the conclusion that in these times they are the only guys in the room incapable of seeing the importance of keeping some dry powder at hand.

I'm also going to quarrel with the glib notion up higher in the thread that yet another virology lab out in the vast medical-industrial complex is a better investment than legal education. First, I tend to think that legal order and rule of law matter, and matter more than finding a cure to the common cold. Having lived in one country where the private tort system basically didn't exist for ordinary people, and another where rule of law as westerners understand it has never quite gotten fully established, I've come to have more respect for rule of law than I did in my younger, more cynical days. Say what you will, but if you are a poor person or a weak person challenging the rich or the powerful, a lawyer working within a functioning rule of law is your best friend. I'm guessing someone who delivered checks to victims of Jerry Sandusky and his enablers - people who in some other systems would be functionally untouchable due to their rank and power - sees that. I can hear folks saying, rule of law, fine, but what does that have to do with funding a law school? Simply this - it really matters whether lawyers, especially lawyers for the common folk, are good at what they do (big corporate clients can take care of themselves; small businesses and the guy off the street, not so much). One thing that I learned only experientially, having dozed through professional responsibility in law school, is just what an awesome responsibility it is to represent clients, and how much it can matter to their lives whether the job is done well. I'm thinking that if you want to enable advocacy for ordinary people in a system that still has elements of rule of law, helping what you think is a capable group educating the next generation of lawyers so they can do the job better is a reasonable way to achieve that. In that zone, based on what I think I know, Drexel seems to me to be a very rational pick.

Now, if someone still wants to argue that curing malaria or providing clean water to the developing world is more important, fair enough. I'm not arguing that there are not other worthy uses for money, nor am I trying to run a project where we force rank charitable uses and try to get everyone to comply. I am arguing that funding a law school is among the worthy uses, if done right.



I don't know how anyone would jump right to the conclusion that donating money to a mediocre, completely superfluous law school, will somehow improve legal order or the rule of law. Can you expand on how Drexel law has accomplished these feats in its 7-8 years of existence. As a lawyer in philadelphia, my understanding is that Drexel's greatest accomplishment to date, is further saturating an already saturated legal market with poorly trained, indebted grads. For evidence of this, you can visit law school transparency's website.


Much of the donation will go new infrastucture at Drexel which will not help it survive and will only increase its expenses. A substantial part of the gift is the donation of a building so the cash is less than $50 million. There are plans for extensive renovation of the building, which has been unoccupied for ten years and will likely be very expensive, at least given Drexel's ambitious plans for it. The money is also supposed to fund a new trial advocacy center which will require new hires to staff it.

At a time when half of new law grads can't get jobs as lawyers, it makes no sense to give $50 million to a mediocre school like Drexel.

This gift is the best argument I've seen for removing the tax deduction for charitable giving I've seen in a long time. Remember, we are paying for 40% of this gift since Kline will get a giant tax benefit.


Interesting, does anyone know the cash value?

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