IU law school in Indianapolis gets $24M from McKinney

Retired banker and attorney Robert H. McKinney is donating $24 million to the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis.

University officials announced the gift Thursday afternoon and said the law school would be renamed the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in his honor.

The gift is the largest ever received by the law school. Combined with matching funds from an IUPUI fundraising campaign, the total value rises to $31.5 million.

The money will fund five endowed chairs to help attract and retain nationally recognized scholars to the faculty, the law school said. The gift also will create a $17.5 million endowment to fund scholarships for excelling students.

“With this extremely generous gift, Bob McKinney will have a transformative impact on a law school that already has provided the academic foundation for a remarkable number of lawyers, judges and community and government leaders across Indiana and beyond,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said in a prepared statement.

The law school, housed in Lawrence W. Inlow Hall on the IUPUI campus west of downtown Indianapolis, is the largest law school in the state, with more than 1,000 students. The school's 10,000 or so graduates reside in every state and several foreign countries.

McKinney’s gift follows the renaming of IU’s law school in Bloomington in December 2008, in honor of Indianapolis attorney and businessman Michael Maurer, who gave it $35 million. Maurer is co-owner of IBJ Media.

IU School of Law-Indianapolis Dean Gary R. Roberts said McKinney’s gift will help the school achieve its long-term goals.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact of this gift upon the law school, the campus and the state,” Roberts said in a prepared statement. “It provides for faculty chairs and student support to create an unparalleled resource with which to realize the aspirations of our school—to become one of the finest public law schools in the nation.”

Until his retirement in 2005, McKinney served as chairman and CEO of First Indiana Corp., parent of First Indiana Bank. First Indiana was acquired in 2008 by Wisconsin-based M&I Corp. for $529 million. Based on the 20 percent of First Indiana shares McKinney owned, he would have grossed more than $111 million in the deal.

He also co-founded local law firm Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, from which he retired in 1992.

Trained as an engineer, McKinney received his law degree from IU and also holds a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Naval Academy.

At IU, McKinney was a trustee from 1989 to 1998 and served a one-year term as board president. He also was chairman of the Board of Advisors of IUPUI and currently is a director of the IU Foundation. Since retiring from banking, he's remained active in environmental causes.

“A law degree is a great introduction to broad areas of leadership—political leadership, business leadership and civic leadership,” McKinney said in a prepared statement. “The IU law school in Indianapolis plays a vital role in developing the leaders Indiana needs to succeed.”

McKinney’s gift, which will be administered and invested by the IU Foundation, was made through the IUPUI Impact campaign. It’s a $1.25 billion fundraising effort publicly announced in October 2010. The campaign surpassed the $1 billion mark in September.


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