'Yale or Harvard would never do this': Grads upset Penn Law changed name after $125 million gift

Erin Arvedlund, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

PHILADELPHIA -- Did you graduate from Penn Law? Better buy your sweatshirt and other swag soon.

The University of Pennsylvania law school's name has changed to Carey Law, after a $125 million donation that included the naming rights to one of America's oldest law colleges.

Grads, faculty and students are alternately happy or furious the naming rights belong to the W.P. Carey family's foundation.

"We've received alum responses who are outraged about the change. They feel a strong attachment to the brand, as I do." said Michael Frieda, currently a third-year student at the law school. "We're just asking to maintain the Penn Law branding."

In the cutthroat world of America's law schools, an Ivy League name can translate into big bucks in the hiring world, Penn Law grads argue.

According to an online petition against the name change, signed by CEOs and partners from top Philly law firms, not all Penn Law alums are thrilled either. As of Wednesday, 2,200 alums and current students had signed the petition.


M. Kelly Tillery was one of the first to sign. The 1979 graduate of Penn Law is now a partner at Pepper Hamilton in Center City.

"It's an awesome, generous donation. But Yale or Harvard would never do this," Tillery said in an interview.

With the Carey money, Penn's law school has become the highest ranking law school in America to be renamed for a donor. The law school is currently No. 7 in the U.S. New & World Report rankings. The other school in the top rankings to bear a donor's name is Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, after the Pritzker family gave $100 million in 2015.

"We should be moving away from Northwestern and more toward Harvard and Yale," Tillery added.


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