Law School gets $25 million for James H. Binger Center for New Americans

February 6, 2017
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Today, the University of Minnesota Law School announced a transformational $25 million gift from the Robina Foundation. The grant—the single largest philanthropic gift in the Law School’s history—will fund the newly named James H. Binger Center for New Americans, establish a James H. Binger Professorship in Clinical Law, and provide Law School student scholarship support.

The gift will provide permanent financial support to the University of Minnesota Law School for the ongoing operations of the James H. Binger Center for New Americans. The Center brings about transformative change by creating a national model for the provision of comprehensive and cohesive legal services for immigrant communities through a variety of means, including improving federal immigration law and policy through impact litigation; protecting detainee rights and improving access to legal representation for refugees and immigrants; educating noncitizens about their legal rights; creating dynamic and comprehensive immigration clinics for students; and collaborating with others on immigration issues. During its four-year pilot program—supported by the Robina Foundation—the Center won a landmark case at the U.S. Supreme Court; won political asylum for clients from around the world; and won release for detained immigrants in Minnesota.

The Center has three law firm partners—Dorsey and Whitney, Faegre Baker Daniels, and Robins Kaplan—and three nonprofit partners—the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and The Advocates for Human Rights.

The gift will be distributed in this way: $23.5 million will be directed for an endowment to support the Center, $1 million to establish and fund the James H. Binger Professorship in Clinical Law, and $500,000 to support scholarships for law students.

The clinical law professorship shall be awarded to a faculty member teaching within the Binger Center with a focus on immigration, asylum, detainee rights, and/or refugee law and policy.

“In these challenging times for legal education, when institutions have fewer resources, this gift represents an extraordinary vote of support for the University of Minnesota Law School. I am enormously grateful for the generosity of the Robina Foundation and its forward-thinking board of directors,” said Dean Garry W. Jenkins. “This splendid gift, which honors the legacy of Robina’s founder, will establish the Law School as a model for 21st-century clinical education. The Binger Center will leverage a unique collaboration among our clinics, prominent law firms, and respected nonprofit organizations, enabling our exceptional faculty and students to continue to work on landmark immigration reform cases for generations to come.”

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said, “This remarkable gift demonstrates the power of philanthropy, how it helps our University to drive the success of our students, and how it fuels our commitment to facing and tackling some of the state’s and nation’s grand challenges. Simply put, philanthropy like this from the Robina Foundation supports our core values.”

“Legal education is in the midst of significant change,” said Kathleen Blatz (’84), chair of the Robina Foundation and retired chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, “and we are enthusiastic about how the University of Minnesota Law School remains committed to educational excellence and programmatic innovation. In a short period, the Center has proven itself to be a vital part of our community and a highly influential entity at a time when immigration is at the center of the national conversation. This project is consistent with the legacy of James Binger and his desire to promote transformational philanthropy.” 

The Robina Foundation, a Minnesota-based private grant-making foundation, seeks to positively impact critical social issues by encouraging innovation and financially supporting transformative projects of its four institutional partners. These partners, selected by the Foundation’s founder, James H. Binger (’41), are Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, the University of Minnesota Law School, and Yale University. This newest grant brings the Foundation’s total giving to the University of Minnesota to nearly $60 million since 2008. 

Read more on the Center for New Americans' recent news here.

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Patrick Stumpf
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Cynthia Huff
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