Rutgers—Camden recently launched the Rayman L. Solomon Scholars Program at Rutgers Law School to aid students who have exhibited devotion to academic excellence and public service, according to the Rutgers Law School website.
Kimberly Mutcherson, the co-dean and professor of law at Rutgers Law School, said the idea for the program came from the anonymous faculty member who funded it. She said the purpose of this program is to provide the Law School with another tool for recruiting very high achieving students to campus.
The anonymous donor provided $3.5 million to fund the program, which is the largest gift ever received by Rutgers—Camden, according to the website. The donor made an additional donation of $50,000 in March 2020.
The program will provide scholars with a $10,000 stipend annually while they are in Law School, summer funding for public service-oriented work after their second year, faculty and alumni mentorship, as well as access to special programming throughout their time in school, Mutcherson said.
She said that there will be three students selected each year for the program and that it will develop a cohort of highly qualified participants who will contribute to the school academically as well as perform significant public service during their careers. The program began this academic year, with the first group of Solomon scholars just entering their second semester.
Participants will be chosen by admissions staff based on their law school application, Mutcherson said. The most important criteria are academic excellence, and beyond that, students interested in public service work are also attractive candidates for the program.
Rayman Solomon, who is now a University Professor, served as the dean of Rutgers Law School—Camden for 16 years, Mutcherson said. The program is named after him due to his commitment to improving Rutgers Law School, Mutcherson said.
“I was surprised, honored and thrilled,” Solomon said. “(The) goals and values of the program are those that guided me throughout my deanship, and it is very exciting to know that they will be carried forward into the future.”
Solomon said he was very happy that the gift came from a close friend and colleague. He said that although it is unusual for a faculty member to make such a significant gift in honor of a dean, this display of generosity was not unusual for the faculty member who made the donation.
Mutcherson said Solomon was an important figure in raising the national profile of the Law School through his expansion of clinical and public interest programs and providing the Law School with a new building a few years ago.
“First of all, I hope that the program will attract students who might otherwise have considered going to another school,” Solomon said. “I hope the program will attract other similar gifts which will augment the large array of clinical, public interest, pro bono and public service opportunities for our students while they are in school.”
He said this will also increase the number of students that can give access to legal services to those who are unable to pay for them during their career. Additionally, he said it will provide a large group of students the chance to go into government service or other public policy roles.
Mutcherson is happy that a gift of such a large amount has come from a faculty member as it reflects their commitment to and investment in the institution. She said she hopes to expand the program in the future once she finds more donors.
“(This gift) will allow us to compete for some of the most talented law school applicants during a time when competition among law schools is significant and will bring some wonderful new people into the Rutgers Law (School) family,” she said.