School of Law receives $5 million bequest from estate of first female faculty member

Peter Kotecki, Reporter

Northwestern’s School of Law received a $5 million bequest from the estate of Dawn Clark Netsch (Weinberg ’48, School of Law ’52), the school’s first female faculty member, to provide financial aid and loan repayment assistance for law students pursuing careers in public interest law.

The bequest will endow the Walter and Dawn Clark Netsch Scholarship Fund.

Netsch, who died in 2013, had a decades-long career in Illinois politics. In 1970, she was elected to the Illinois State Senate, where she served for 18 years. She was elected Illinois Comptroller in 1990, becoming the first woman to hold state constitutional executive office in Illinois.

“Dawn was a mentor to many generations of Northwestern Law students,” School of Law dean Daniel Rodriguez said in a news release. “It was very important to her that students with a passion for public service be able to pursue those types of careers.”

The bequest will help students by providing financial support for those who know they want to pursue law in the public interest and assisting with post-graduate loan repayment for students who decide during law school that they want to pursue that field of study, Rodriguez said.

The bequest from Netsch’s estate is a donation toward a $150 million fundraising initiative for the School of Law created to increase student financial aid as well as to complete social justice projects, curriculum revamps and law-technology initiatives — so far, the campaign has raised $93 million. The fundraising campaign is part of “We Will,” NU’s $3.75 billion fundraising campaign.

Netsch and her husband, architect Walter Netsch, amassed a significant collection of modern art. The bequest includes three works of art, including “Wallpaper with Blue Floor Interior” by Roy Lichtenstein.

Netsch was an expert on constitutional law and was one of the authors of the Constitution of the State of Illinois. She again made history in 1994 as the first woman to run for Illinois governor as a candidate of a major political party, though she was defeated in the general election.

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