Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s impact honored by donors

A man in a suit is seated next to an American flag

Retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court participates at an event on the McGeorge School of Law campus in 2018. Justice Kennedy taught at McGeorge School of Law for 54 years, making him the school's longest-serving faculty member.

Becoming a United States Supreme Court Justice is one of the nation’s highest honors, and the opportunity to learn from the renowned Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was a unique opportunity for generations of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law students.

“Justice Kennedy is brilliant and was a great Justice,” said McGeorge School of Law alumnus Parker White, ’80, husband of the late Regent and alumna Noël Ferris, ’79, after whom the law school’s modern courthouse is named. “He made Constitutional Law exciting and brought things to life.”

Justice Kennedy is McGeorge’s longest serving faculty member, having taught Constitutional Law and Comparative Free Speech from 1965 to 2019. To honor the legacy of Justice Kennedy, White’s most recent gift of $150,000 ensures the lasting impact of the Kennedy Endowed Fellows Program with the creation of the Anthony M. Kennedy Endowed Fellow Scholarship Fund.

The Kennedy Fellows Program awards scholarships to JD students of exceptional academic ability based on their entering credentials. Recipients of this scholarship also join the prestigious “Kennedy Fellows” program originally founded in 1997 in honor of Kennedy. They receive a full tuition scholarship and priority class registration.

The newly established scholarship fund ensures this program will provide student support in perpetuity by transforming the program into an endowed scholarship. This will enable the law school to recruit and retain the brightest students who will continue a long-standing tradition of excellence.

A man teaches in a classroom

Retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court teaches a Constitutional Law course at McGeorge School of Law in 2013. 

Michael Belote, ’87, recently converted his estate gift to support the Kennedy Scholarship Fund. Belote was selected in 2021 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, California Capital Chapter as its Outstanding Philanthropist. The honor recognizes individuals with a proven record of exceptional generosity who have demonstrated both civil and charitable responsibility, and who have encouraged others to do the same.

“Learning from Justice Kennedy was a noteworthy experience during my time at McGeorge,” Belote said. “Very few lawyers get to say they were taught constitutional law by Anthony Kennedy.”

Justice Kennedy’s impact permeates the law school. The Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court, an organization of judges, justices, law professors, attorneys, and law students dedicated to professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence in the legal profession is located on the Sacramento Campus. The Inn has won more honors from the National Inn of Court than any other in the United States.

In 2021, McGeorge partnered with the community to promote the educational outreach of the Justice Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center. Housed in the Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse, the center’s mission is to foster respect for the rule of law and spotlight the independent judiciary’s role in protecting the constitutional and civil rights of all people.

Additionally, thanks to a generous gift from the Angelo and Sofia Tsakopoulos Family Foundation, the law school established the Anthony M. Kennedy Endowed Chair, which is currently held by McGeorge Professor Leslie Gielow Jacobs, an expert on First Amendment Law.

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