College of Law Gifted More than $2.2 Million

Gift to establish and fund new endowed chair

Sept. 8, 2014 – The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law will have a new endowed chair and support for its loan forgiveness program and annual Fordham Debate program thanks to a $2.2 million gift from the estate of the late Rita E. Fordham.

Rita E. Fordham was the widow of Jefferson B. Fordham, former University of Pennsylvania Law School dean and Distinguished University Professor of Law at the U. The gifts were announced at a Celebration of Life memorial last month.

In her will, Rita E. Fordham gave the College of Law more than $2 million to establish and fund the Jefferson B. and Rita E. Fordham Presidential Dean’s Chair. Another $100,000 will increase the endowment of the Fordham Loan Forgiveness Program, which is used to help law school graduates employed in the public and public interest sectors repay their student loans. A third gift of $130,000 will be used to endow the college’s annual Fordham Debate program, which addresses relevant contemporary public policy and legal issues.

Watch the August 18, 2014 Celebration of Rita Fordham’s Life »

“The support for a distinguished chair allows us to compete for the best faculty talent and to reward and retain our most talented scholars at the University of Utah,” said Ruth Watkins, senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the U. “These gifts promote excellence, and we are deeply grateful.”

Rita E. Fordham became the administrative assistant to Law Dean Daniel Dykstra in 1957. In the summer of 1963, she met Jefferson B. Fordham while he was a visiting professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. They were married in March 1964 and lived in Philadelphia until Jefferson B. Fordham completed his deanship at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. In 1970, they returned to the U where he began his 19-year tenure as Distinguished University Professor of Law at the College of Law.

Rita E. Fordham was born in Astoria, New York, as the youngest of nine children. She attended City College of New York and lived in Idaho before moving to Utah. She died in December 2013 and was predeceased by her husband who died in 1994.

Part of the Fordham’s gifts includes and endowment for The S.J. Quinney College of Law’s Fordham Loan Repayment Assistance Program (Fordham LRAP). The program works in tandem with the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) established by the federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (CCRAA) to assist students working in the public interest sector repay their educational student loans. The CCRAA reduces monthly federal student loan payments, and the Fordham LRAP provides to participants some or all of their remaining monthly loan payment as determined under the CCRAA.