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Three major donor gifts add millions to ASU Law

Michael and Rebecca Berch donate $1.5 million to ASU Law

Retired ASU Law Professor Michael Berch and his wife, retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Rebecca White Berch, have given $1.5 million to the law school.

October 21, 2015

Generous donors have recently given more than $4 million combined to support scholarships and programs at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. The gifts were made by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods; retired ASU Law Professor Michael Berch and his wife, retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Rebecca White Berch; and the Steele Foundation in honor of longtime Phoenix attorney Dan Cracchiolo.

“This law school remains on its path of excellence and we are committed to helping students succeed,” said ASU Law Dean Doug Sylvester. “These recent gifts are representative of the generosity of our community.”

The Berches’ $1.5 million planned gift is the latest in a series of gifts from them stretching back decades. Michael Berch said he and his wife began giving to ASU Law when they first married — about $50 each pay period. In 1992, the couple started a scholarship that now benefits five to seven students a year. The Berches’ new gift will also fund scholarships.

Months before the Berch family made its latest gift, Dean Sylvester announced that a portion of the fourth floor in the new law school building in downtown Phoenix would be named the Michael and Rebecca Berch Student Success Center in honor of the couple’s unwavering commitment to ASU Law students. Michael Berch began teaching at ASU Law in 1969 and retired last year. Recently retired Justice Rebecca White Berch graduated from ASU Law in 1979 and also taught at the law school for a time.

Like the Berch Family, Grant Woods’ gift of $1 million will go toward funding scholarships. In honor of his generosity, ASU Law named the courtroom classroom in the new building the J. Grant Woods Courtroom. Woods graduated from ASU Law in 1979.

“I feel you have an obligation to serve the community when you can,” Woods said. “This is a great time for people to get involved with the law school. The school has gone from good to great and will now have a state-of-the-art facility. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be involved with an exciting, dynamic, welcoming institution like ASU Law.”

In August, the Steele Foundation made a grant award of $2 million to ASU Law to endow the Daniel Cracchiolo Chair in Civil and Criminal Law, thus founding the largest named chair in the school’s history.

In recognition of this gift, ASU Law will name the executive conference room in the new building after Cracchiolo, chairman and former CEO of the Steele Foundation and co-founder of one of Phoenix’s most prominent law firms, Burch & Cracchiolo.

“It’s been an amazing experience to witness the generosity of our community, especially in the past few years. This law school raised $2 million a year over the past 30 years, but in the past five years alone has raised $45 million,” said James Van Wicklin, senior director of development at ASU Law. “This has been a gratifying experience, and I hope to rally our broader alumni base to get even more involved.”

ASU Law’s “Building the Future” campaign has a goal of raising $50 million by 2017. To contribute, please contact James Van Wicklin at

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