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Stanford Law School expands innovative Global Law Program with $25 million gift from alumnus William A. Franke

The largest alumni gift in Stanford Law School history commemorates the school’s 125th anniversary.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Carolyn Franke, William A. Franke, and Dean Elizabeth Magill. Photo: L.A. Cicero

Stanford Law School (SLS) will expand its global educational offerings through a $25 million gift—the largest gift from an alum in the law schools history—from William A. Franke, AB ’59, LLB ’61, a prominent businessman and lifelong philanthropist. The gift, inspired by SLS’s 125th anniversary, will endow SLS’s Global Initiative, which will now be named the W. A. Franke Global Law Program.

“Bill strongly believes in the transformative power of education, evident from his long history of giving to higher education institutions,” said Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean M. Elizabeth Magill. “We are profoundly grateful for this extraordinary investment, which will allow us to permanently transform the educational experience at Stanford Law School. As a result of this visionary gift, our graduates will have an educational experience that reflects the global world we live in, and they will be ready to lead in an increasingly complex and borderless world.”

“We are thrilled with this generous and forward-thinking gift from Bill Franke, which truly reflects the spirit of Stanfords broader mission of purposeful and positive real-world impact,” said Persis Drell, provost of Stanford University. “The W.A. Franke Global Law Program will provide the kind of education needed to develop leaders in a rapidly changing world.”

“Im excited by the law school’s vision to make Stanford Law a true incubator for the next generation of global leaders,” said Franke. “My hope is that this gift will add a layer of global preparedness to the education offered at Stanford and will help continue the tradition of sending SLS graduates into the world able to tackle pressing issues and add value in the global arena.”

Preparing for a Global Environment

In the current global environment, lawyers are increasingly facing transnational legal problems and engagement with people, legal systems, businesses, governments, and multilateral institutions from around the globe. Law schools’ educational offerings must prepare students to operate in a highly globalized environment.

“At Stanford Law, we’re training a generation of lawyers who can lead and solve problems in an increasingly interconnected world,” said Robert Daines, SLS Pritzker Professor of Law and Business, associate dean for global programs, and senior faculty for the Rock Center on Corporate Governance.

Bill’s gift will enable us to expand our offerings, including a new innovative global quarter where our students can spend an entire quarter focused on global business law.

Stanford Law’s first global quarter, starting in 2020, will focus on business in China, Singapore, and Asia. With six weeks of classes on campus to prepare students to understand international business transactions, senior faculty will then take students abroad for three or four weeks to meet and work with international lawyers, academics, politicians, students, and business leaders.

“No other law school offers the kind of intense immersion overseas that this program will provide our students,” said Daines. “With the global quarter, a global foundational course, intensive overseas study trips, and greater integration of transnational law into existing core courses, Stanford Law is shaping the future of legal education by ensuring that every student has the opportunity to cultivate a global perspective.”

About William A. Franke

During Franke’s business career, he has been the chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 forest products company, chairman of a large regional bank, chairman of a large U.S. convenience store company, and, from 1993 to August 2001, chief executive officer of America West Airlines (now integrated into American Airlines).

Franke served as the founding chairman of Airplanes Group Ltd., a $5 billion aircraft finance vehicle created from the aircraft portfolio of GPA Group plc., the Irish aircraft leasing company. Through investments made by Indigo Partners, the private equity firm Franke founded, he has been the founding chairman of Tiger Airways (Singapore); has served as chairman of Spirit Airlines (U.S.); serves as chairman of Wizz Air (Hungary), Frontier Airlines (U.S.) and JetSMART Airlines (Chile); is a director of Volaris (Mexico); and has served on several public company boards of directors.

Franke has a history of generous support for SLS, including the W. A. Franke Professorship in Law and Business at the law school, currently held by Professor Joseph Grundfest, JD ’78, and Stanford University, including annual gifts through The Stanford Fund for Undergraduate Education. Franke has also served as a member the SLS Dean’s Advisory Council.

This article originally appeared in Stanford News.