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February 1, 2010

Returning the Favor: Law Alumni Start Campaign to Give Back

The following story originally appeared in the Fall 2009 Oregon Outlook published by the UO Office of Development.

Returning the Favor
Law alumni start campaign to ‘give back’ tuition they paid in 1974

By Ed Dorsch

In 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon, Oregon Governor Tom McCall campaigned for statewide gas rationing, and the Kamikaze Kids beat UCLA. Despite an energy crisis, 11.3 percent inflation, and the worst recession since World War II, annual tuition at the UO law school was just $901 (annual in-state tuition today is $22,328). Thirty-five years later, members of the UO law class of ’74 are “paying their tuition” a second time — this time as gifts to a scholarship fund.

“Between the fall of 1971 and the spring of 1974, we paid an average of $1,018 per year (with inflation added) for law school tuition,” says San Francisco attorney Paul Nelson, J.D. ’74, who came up with the idea. Nelson and Willamette Week publisher Richard Meeker, J.D. ’74, both members of the law school dean’s advisory council, led the initiative. Their class reunion this September provided the perfect springboard for the campaign, and their idea has inspired other law classes to start similar campaigns.

“We got a tremendous bargain when we went to law school, thanks to the state and our parents’ generation,” says Nelson. “We received a really first-rate education. It taught me to be a lawyer and launched a career that’s been fun for thirty-five years. It was a gift, and we’ve benefited personally, professionally, and financially.”

So far, twenty-five donors have given a total of $62,286 to the Class of 1974 Endowed Scholarship Fund. Nelson and Meeker hope to raise $125,000 by the end of the year. The UO law school classes of ’69, ’64, and ’59 have initiated similar fundraising efforts.

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