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December 17, 2013

$15,000,000 gift to Northwestern Law

by Dan Rodriguez


Alumnus Neil Bluhm has made a $15 million dollar gift to our Law School—the largest gift in the Law School’s history.

Neil Bluhm and I want his gift to be allocated in ways that will help us accomplish key law school objectives. The largest portion of the gift—$6 million—will be unrestricted.  We anticipate that these funds will be used to fund key initiatives growing out of our strategic planning process.  It will also enable us to make progress on the essential objective of alleviating student debt by attending to need-based financial aid.  The Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program will be the next biggest beneficiary of the gift.  $5 million dollars, invested in an endowment which we will establish and add to steadily, will be used to help graduates who accept public service and government jobs repay law school loans.  The Bluhm Legal Clinic will receive $3 million to strengthen its endowment and enhance clinical legal education programs.  (These funds are in addition to the $7 million that Bluhm has already given to support the legal clinic). The remaining $1 million will be used over a ten-year period to build ongoing, sustainable support from Law School alumni through annual gifts to the Law School Fund.

Many of you know Neil and his post-NU history.  Following his graduation from Northwestern Law in 1962, Bluhm launched a remarkable and distinguished career.  He began at the Chicago law firm of Mayer, Brown, and Platt, where he quickly became partner before co-founding the JMB Realty Corporation in 1970.  JMB promptly became a major commercial real estate investment firm that owns, develops, and manages a variety of large real estate projects throughout North America, including malls, hotels, planned communities and office complexes.

As managing principal, Bluhm also oversees the strategic direction of Walton Street Capital LLC, a private equity real estate investment firm that he co-founded in 1995 with former senior executives of JMB Realty.  The firm focuses on investing the principals’ own capital in real estate, in partnership with institutional and private investors.  Since its founding, affiliates of Walton Street Capital have received total equity commitments in excess of $7 billion.

Additionally, Bluhm has a distinguished record of service and philanthropy to the University and to the Law School.  In 1999, he and several members of his family gave a gift of $7 million that named the Bluhm Legal Clinic.  He serves on the Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee, and previously he served on the Law School’s Law Board, the Law School Visiting Committee, the Law Alumni Board, the Law Development Board and the Law Campaign Steering Committee (during Campaign Northwestern).  In 2009, he received Northwestern’s Alumni Medal, the highest honor an alumnus can receive from the University.

Currently, he is a life trustee at Northwestern University, board president of the Whitney Museum of American Art, life trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, a member of the board of Northwestern Memorial Foundation, a benefactor of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an honorary director of the Greater Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  He has also served on the advisory board of the nonprofit group Chicago Cares, which his daughter Leslie founded.

He is the father of three children, Leslie N. Bluhm, Andrew G. Bluhm, and Meredith A. Bluhm-Wolf.  Meredith is a 1995 graduate of Northwestern Law and serves on the Bluhm Legal Clinic Advisory Board.


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