Price is Right’ host awards animal rights grant to NU

Michelle Ma

Bob Barker, host of game show “The Price Is Right,” will ask Northwestern law students to “come on down” and take a class about animal rights. Barker recently donated $1 million to the law school as a part of his push for animal rights awareness.

The endowment, Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights Law, provides top universities with funding to offer studies about animal rights, said Henri Bollinger, Barker’s publicist. The endowment program began with Barker’s first donation to Harvard University more than three years ago. Barker then chose Columbia University, Duke University and University of California at Los Angeles as other endowment recipients, Bollinger said.

The Law School must use Barker’s donation for courses about animal rights — as specified by the endowment agreement — but each university can decide how to best implement the donation, said Dean David Van Zandt. When university officials accepted the donation, they agreed to Barker’s requests to offer an animal rights course at least once a year, provided there is student demand, Van Zandt said.

“It’s a wonderful gift for the law school,” Van Zandt said. “(Barker) cares about animal rights strongly.”

Barker’s gift to NU is identical to endowments he has given to other law schools, Van Zandt said.

The specific uses of the endowment money are not finalized, Van Zandt said. He added that the school might offer a traditional course on animal rights or an “externship” that allows students to gain working experience outside of school.

“It’s going to help us provide more learning opportunities (for students),” he said.

UCLA uses the endowment to provide animal rights law classes and research opportunities. In addition to classes, the gift has helped a professor research theoretical issues and current legislation of animal rights.

Though NU regularly accepts specifically directed donations, Barker’s endowment for an animal rights course “is the first of its kind,” said NU spokesman Charles Loebbaka. Barker has never donated to NU before, he added.

Barker’s endowment fund began more than three years ago when “The Price Is Right” production company wanted to honor his birthday and more than 30 years as the show’s host, Bollinger said.

A positive response at Harvard to the new course offerings prompted Barker to continue donating to universities in the name of animal rights, Bollinger said. Since his initial donation, Barker now selects one school at a time to provide funding for animal rights courses, he said.

Barker has long been a proponent for animal rights, refusing to do commercials for sponsors who harm animals in the manufacturing process, according to his biography on the CBS Web site. He also established the DJ&T Foundation to provide free or low-cost pet healthcare. Each day, after Barker gives out washing machines and new cars to audience members, he reminds “The Price Is Right” viewers to spay or neuter their pets.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]