Mississippi College

Selby and Richard McRae Foundation Make Major Gift to Mississippi College Law School

May 27, 2014

The Jackson-based Selby and Richard McRae Foundation made a significant gift to endow a faculty chair at the Mississippi College School of Law.

Their gift creates the Henry Vaughan Watkins and Selby Watkins McRae Chair at the Baptist-affiliated law school in downtown Jackson. It represents the biggest endowment gift in MC Law School history.

“We are grateful for this generous gift that will support MC Law and preserve the legacy of the Watkins and McRae families,” said law dean Jim Rosenblatt.

“We are mindful of the confidence this gift demonstrates in MC Law and our mission and will continue to strive to offer a quality legal education in downtown Jackson,” Rosenblatt added.

The Watkins name is prominent in Mississippi legal circles and the McRae name is celebrated in the state’s business community. Both families have been devoted to advance education for decades.

Rosenblatt will join the MC School of Law faculty in August and will hold the inaugural chair. The Cornell School of Law graduate is making the transition to the faculty as his successor comes aboard as dean. Rosenblatt is wrapping up 11 years as MC Law School dean, with his tenure bringing more than $10 million in facility improvements to the Jackson campus.

In addition, Mississippi College Law School overseas programs have expanded to nations like China, France, Mexico, South Korea and Germany. MC Law student moot court teams have won several major awards in national competition during his tenure. A Natchez native, Rosenblatt was named MC law dean in 2003 after a distinguished 30-year career in the U.S. Army.

Noting the dean’s many accomplishments for more than a decade, law professor Matt Steffey said Rosenblatt succeeded, in part, because of “the collaborative style he brought from his time in military service.”

In making the gift, the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation recognized the outstanding program of legal education at the law school that first became part of Mississippi College in 1975. Foundation leaders expressed their appreciation for the collective efforts of the law school’s professors, staff and administrators.

Their professional contributions, foundation officials say, have touched the lives of numerous attorneys, judges, legislators and community leaders.

MC Law officials declined to announce the size of the gift.

Gifts to other law schools around the nation are sizeable. The University of Missouri law school recently announced a $1.57 million gift from the Nancy and Charles Wall Foundation. It creates the Wall Chair in Corporate Law & Governance at the law school. It funds a new endowed faculty chair.

 In 1990, San Diego philanthropists Sol and Helen Price contributed $1.5 million to establish the Price Chair in Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. In April 2014, tax attorney Byron Chrisman and his wife, Carlene, donated a record $10 million to the University of Colorado Law School. It endows the Byron and Carlene Chrisman Chair in Free Enterprise at the law school at the Boulder-based university.

Photo: MC School of Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt

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