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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Returning the Favor to the Law School: Jessine Monaghan '79L

From The Bridge: Winter 2014

Jessine Monaghan '79LA few years ago, Jessine A. Monaghan '79L heard a piece on the morning news about a woman who'd worked as a laundress and had left $150,000 to her local university to start a scholarship for African-American students. "It made me realize that no matter who you are and what your income level is, it is possible for you to make a difference," says Monaghan, a W&L trustee and the director and senior counsel for government relations with SABIC Innovative Plastics, in Washington. "Washington and Lee has made a great difference in my own life, and I wanted to return the favor."

Monaghan designated her first campaign gift for a fellowship to support faculty in redesigning course materials to use in experiential learning for the Third-Year Law Program. "I was lucky to have two other donors make challenge gifts, the Lenfest Challenge and the Huss Challenge. It was fun to work with them and expand the gift, making it more significant," Monaghan adds.

She has recently made her second campaign gift, for the Lewis Hall renovations. "My class started in Lewis Hall. Back when it was new, it seemed expansive, but for the last 10 years, it has been overcrowded. With the changes in law education, there is more small group work, which is poorly accommodated in the current configuration of Lewis Hall. The Law School is bursting at its seams, and the carefully planned renovations are needed to allow the University to provide the kind of education for which W&L is known," Monaghan explains.

She continues, "In academia and in the mainstream media, there is a lot of talk about how to bridge to the profession. Almost 10 years ago, the Law School faculty thought long and hard about how to position W&L for law school education of the future. The result, adopted in the Strategic Plan, was the third year of experiential learning to prepare students for the actual practice of law. I'm proud of the Third-Year Program and the vision of W&L's faculty."