UVA Law Receives $44M Donation, Largest In School’s History

Martha and Bruce Karsh, University of Virginia School of Law alumni and philanthropists who met as law students, are making quite a gift to their alma mater. At a celebratory dinner last week, the duo announced a $44 million gift to the law school, the largest donation since its founding in 1819.

The generous donation will be fully funded by 2022 and will be used for several initiatives. The law school will establish the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy, interdisciplinary programming focused on respect for the rule of law, civic engagement, civil discourse, the ideals of a plural society, and the indispensable values of truth, integrity and ethics. In addition, the gift will create a professorships fund to support faculty affiliated with the Karsh Center.

But more importantly, at least to prelaw students applying to UVA Law, the gift will fund UVA Law’s student scholarhsip program, which will be renamed as Karsh-Dillard Scholarships.

“Education is the foundation of a healthy, thriving democracy,” the Karshes said in a joint statement. “We want to empower students to pursue their goals as knowledgeable, engaged citizens, and we want democratic principles to flourish for the good of society. The University of Virginia, established by one of our most respected Founding Fathers and devoted as it is to honor and truth, makes it the perfect place to do both.”

Law School Dean Risa Goluboff said the donation will expand opportunities for students, faculty and programs.

“This gift is a testament to the Karshes and to UVA Law,” Goluboff said. “Martha and Bruce believe in the power and importance of a top legal education to change lives, support the rule of law, and uphold democracy and democratic ideals. With their support, we will be able to accomplish more than we ever imagined for our students and faculty, and for our nation.” 

Combined with their previous gifts, the couple have now committed in excess of $50 million to UVA, and more than $250 million overall in education philanthropy through their Karsh Family Foundation, which they launched in 1998.