Less than three years after giving Drexel University an unprecedented $50 million gift, law school benefactor Thomas R. Kline provided a historic donation to his alma mater, Duquesne University School of Law.
In July, the Duquesne University School of Law announced plans to establish the Thomas R. Kline Center for Judicial Education, thanks to a $7.5 million gift from Kline, a 1978 alumnus of the Pittsburgh law school. The gift is the largest in the school’s history.
The center, housed at Duquesne School of Law, will be the first program of its kind in the U.S., offering an innovative, high-level curriculum of courses and seminars for more than 600 trial and appellate judges in Pennsylvania. The center will operate in conjunction with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and will coordinate with deans and law scholars at Pennsylvania’s nine law schools.
When the gift was announced, Kline said the center represents the intersection of pride in his alma mater, his respect for the judicial process and high standards for lawyers and jurists and his commitment to legal education.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal (subscription required), Kline said the center will serve as a national model for a new kind of collaboration to promote justice.
“There has long been a barrier between academia and the judiciary, and now they will work together,” Kline said.
Kline School of Law Dean Daniel Filler said the project represents an exciting opportunity to share the insights of the law school’s faculty – who are nationally recognized for their work in law and psychology, public health, politics, sociology, criminal justice and education – with the judiciary.
“The project dovetails perfectly with our own interdisciplinary strengths,” Filler said, adding that he looks forward to bringing Pennsylvania's judges to the law school’s Thomas R. Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy on Chestnut Street and to taking part in a path-breaking opportunity to promote justice.
“Tom Kline is one of the most respected and visionary leaders in the legal profession,” Filler said. “Tom’s leadership is matched by his generosity. We are grateful for his philanthropy and inspired by his dedication to making our system of justice fulfil its potential.”
In 2014, Kline pledged a $50 million gift to Drexel that was the largest single donation in the University’s history. The gift was dedicated to both the short-term and long-term strength of the Kline School of Law, including the conveyance and restoration of the historic Beneficial Savings Fund Society Building to house the Thomas R. Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy. The institute, located at 12th and Chestnut streets, will provide a state-of-the-art facility where students can polish their advocacy skills.
A founding partner of the law firm Kline & Specter, PC, Kline is one of the state’s most successful and esteemed trial attorneys. He has been a University Trustee since 2012 and has served on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the U.S. District Court for the federal courts in Pennsylvania from 1989 through 2011, much of that time as chairman. He has held different roles with the Inner Circle of Advocates, an invitation-only group that selects from the top 100 plaintiffs’ lawyers in the nation. In 2015, the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals named Kline the Individual Philanthropist of the Year.