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          Thursday, October 03, 2013

          In Support of Intellectual Inquiry

          Two dedicated alumni have made major contributions to faculty scholarship.
          Larry Nagin '65

          Larry Nagin '65

          Several alumni have made donations specifically to advance scholarship at UC Hastings.

          In 2008, one year before he died of cancer at the age of 67, Lawrence M. Nagin ’65 made a significant gift to UC Hastings that would have a far-reaching impact. Over the years, Nagin had always supported his alma mater, but as his widow, Sherrie, recalls, the specter of his own mortality made him think about how he could help in a larger way.

          His conclusion? Make a $100,000 gift to establish the Lawrence M. Nagin ’65 Faculty Enrichment Fund, and encourage his professional colleagues and friends to contribute to it. The fund supports the faculty’s endeavors in many ways, such as providing research stipends and assistance, underwriting conferences and symposia, and covering travel costs.

          Reflecting Nagin’s work in the 1960s as a criminal defense lawyer for the indigent and his long-standing commitment to community service, the fund is designated for faculty projects that address questions of social justice. Those include work by Professors Reuel Schiller, Osagie K. Obasogie, and Lisa Faigman, as well as the California Correctional Crisis conference organized by Professor Hadar Aviram.

          According to Sherrie Nagin, her husband believed the best way to recognize UC Hastings’ role in his own education was by supporting the faculty. “He wanted to contribute in a way that would have the greatest impact,” she says, and he felt that helping the faculty pursue their scholarly goals would have a ripple effect across the entire law school. “Larry felt strongly that a faculty enrichment fund would make a broad and deep contribution to the school,” she adds.

          Lawrence M. Nagin, who achieved enormous success as an executive in the aviation industry, began his legal career as a deputy public defender in Los Angeles. After a period in private practice, Nagin joined the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, where he served as the senior assistant city attorney for Los Angeles’ Department of Airports. His growing knowledge of aviation led him to become general counsel for Flying Tigers, an all-cargo airline. Nagin went on to serve as general counsel and a top executive at United Airlines and then US Airways, retiring in 2002. Nagin always felt grateful to the law school for making his career possible. “He found his calling at UC Hastings,” Sherrie Nagin says. “In law school, he found a career that he felt truly excited about. So he wanted, in return, to make a major contribution to UC Hastings.”

          Carl W. “Chip” Robertson ’98 vividly remembers the aha moment that made him love being a law student.

          “I was taking property law with Professor Jo Carillo,” says Robertson, a principal of Santa Monica–based Warland Investments and member of UC Hastings’ Board of Directors and UC Hastings Foundation. “One day, she came to class with a bundle of sticks, which she used to illustrate that you can partition property however you want. Her creativity made it fun to learn. She was the first professor who unlocked the law for me, who brought the study of law to life.”

          As a law student, Robertson had an unusually keen appreciation of the scholarly work his professors engaged in. He recognized that their research not only made them better teachers, it also infused the entire institution with an exciting sense of legal inquiry. So when he found himself in a position to give back to UC Hastings, he chose to establish the Chip W. Robertson ’98 Faculty Research Fund.

          With an endowment now in excess of $250,000, the fund has supported a wide array of important projects since its inception, such as Professor Reuel Schiller’s research into the historical development of labor law and fair employment practices law, and Professor Chimène Keitner’s work on the history of foreign official immunity. The fund also supported Professor Robin Feldman’s 2012 book, Rethinking Patent Rights, and it supported Carillo with the publication of her California community property law casebook.

          Professor Evan Lee, UC Hastings’ former dean of research, worked closely with Robertson to set up the endowment. “I had Chip in my criminal law class,” Lee says. “And he understood from a young age that scholarship is central to the school’s intellectual life. So he created an endowment that will support faculty research into perpetuity and has put no restrictions on the types of scholarship he supports. He does not care if the work is conservative or liberal, or anything in between. All he cares about is that the money he provides leads to the direct production of scholarship that will make a contribution to the field.”

          His generosity also comes with a personal touch. When a faculty member completes a scholarly work that Robertson’s fund has helped, he sends the professor a handwritten note saying he feels privileged to support the work. “UC Hastings opened many doors of opportunity for me,” Robertson explains. “This is a way for me, as a member of the UC Hastings community, to say thank-you to the faculty and acknowledge their contributions. Their active participation in scholarship enhances the institution’s reputation.”

          To learn how you can support engaged scholarship at UC Hastings, please contact Laura Jackson at jacksonl@uchastings.edu or 415.565.4621.

          Read more from UC Hastings magazine here.

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