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$1.1 Million Gift Will Fund First Faculty Chair in the MU School of Law

Sept. 12, 2008

Story Contact:  Emily Smith, (573) 882-3346, SmithEA@missouri.ed

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A donation of $1.1 million to the University of Missouri School of Law will create the first faculty chair, the Robert L. Hawkins, Jr. /Dale A. Whitman Chair. MU School of Law alumnus, Robert L. Hawkins Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Hunter Hawkins, recently made the donation that also will honor their friend Dale A. Whitman, who was a professor at the MU School of Law and served as dean from 1982-1988.

 “For more than 60 years, Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins dedicated their lives to service. Their commitment has meant a great deal to the University of Missouri, especially in the construction of Hulston Hall,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said. “We are able to say with certainty that law students will forever recognize the names Robert L. Hawkins Jr. and Elizabeth Hunter Hawkins.”

During his tenure as dean, Whitman helped develop the campaign to construct Hulston Hall, the School of Law’s current location that was dedicated in 1988. Hawkins refers to Whitman as having “saved the law school” with his work.

“Our hope is that this endowed chair will bring a professor of great national stature to the MU campus,” Hawkins said. “I also am pleased to honor my great friendship and admiration for Dale Whitman by including his name in the first faculty chair for the law school. Nothing either one of us could do for the school could be too much.”

Robert Lewis Hawkins Jr. graduated at the top of his class from the MU School of Law in 1948. As a law student, he was a member of the Order of the Coif and served as editor of the Missouri Law Review. From 1948 -1951 he was an associate with the law firm of Hunter, Chamier & Motley in Moberly. In 1951, Hawkins opened a law practice in Monroe City. While there, he served as the city attorney of Monroe City and prosecuting attorney of Monroe County. In 1956, Hawkins moved to Jefferson City, where he practiced law for the remainder of his career.

Hawkins served on the Board of Governors of the Missouri Bar for 11 years and was president of the Bar from 1973-1974. He also served 12 years on the Board of Trustees of the Missouri Bar Foundation. Hawkins was the first lawyer from outstate Missouri to be elected to the 31-member Board of Governors of the American Bar Association, where he chaired the Association’s Finance Committee. From 1983-1991, Hawkins was a member of the Supreme Court of Missouri Advisory Committee, which had oversight in matters of legal ethics and lawyer discipline.

Always a supporter of the MU School of Law, Hawkins chaired the fundraising efforts for the private funds portion of Hulston Hall. He served as trustee for 10 years and as president for the MU Law School Foundation for two years. He also was a charter member of the MU Law Society, the leading financial support group of the law school.
Elizabeth Hunter Hawkins graduated from Jefferson City Junior College in 1941. The next year, she married Robert L. Hawkins Jr. A Girl Scout since the age of 10, Hawkins remained active in the organization through her teen years. In Moberly, and later in Monroe City, Hawkins served as a Girl Scout leader and helped organize kindergartens in public schools.

After moving to Jefferson City in 1957, she served as secretary of the Women’s Guild of Faith Lutheran Church. She also served as an advisor for the church’s youth group and on the church’s Board of Trustees. Mrs. Hawkins is a 60-year member of PEO, Century Study Club and is a lifetime member of the Cole County Historical Society. She was a charter member of the Missouri Governor’s Mansion docents and served for 30 years. She is also a genealogist, writing books for each of her children and grandchildren and tracing her and her husband’s families back to the 12th century.

The Hawkins’ gift puts the MU School of Law over its $17 million goal in the For All We Call Mizzou. In the past eight years, alumni and friends have contributed $17,002,803 to the Law School.

“Reaching this milestone has greatly enhanced the university’s ability to provide an outstanding legal education and serve the legal profession and the public,” Deaton said

The For All We Call Mizzou campaign total for all of MU’s schools and colleges combined is now $973 million. The university will celebrate raising $1 billion in spring 2009. Private gifts to the campaign enhance MU’s ability to compete nationally and internationally for the best students and faculty and provide broad access for students of all economic backgrounds to Missouri’s flagship university.