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Donor support helps ASU Law students in wake of pandemic


Beus Center for Law and Society exterior building photo

The Beus Center for Law and Society, home of Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Meg Potter/ASU Now

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May 11, 2020

An ASU Law student was in the United Kingdom for an externship when the coronavirus swiftly began shutting down countries.

When the United Kingdom was added to the U.S. travel ban list on March 14, the student was notified by ASU that she would need to make arrangements to leave as soon as possible. Seven weeks of the spring semester remained.

“I was not at all prepared to incur such a last-minute expense,” she said.

Five thousand miles away, Rick Berry was considering how best to lend a helping hand as the world around him faced a new, stark reality. Berry decided to reach out to his alma mater.

He already had a student scholarship established at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. But he wanted to do more. That’s when he learned about the Law Annual Fund, which supports the most urgent needs of the college at the discretion of the dean.

A longtime admirer of Dean Douglas Sylvester’s leadership, Berry was immediately sold on the idea: Support as many students in need as possible as quickly as possible.

“For those families that don’t have traditional support that I’ve always enjoyed,” Berry said, “it’s really tough. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to help.”

Back in the United Kingdom, the ASU Law student was alerted that her airfare would be paid for by the law school. She would also be receiving funds from ASU Law that would cover an Airbnb rental she could stay in upon her return during the mandatory two-week quarantine period for those having traveled abroad.

The emergency support provided by the Law Annual Fund was critical.

“I am deeply appreciative of the donor's generosity that made it possible for ASU Law to provide much-needed support during these incredibly tumultuous times,” she said. 

Berry’s generosity was felt in many other corners of the ASU Law community, as well. More than 40 additional donors have since stepped up and made a gift to the fund.

“I am graduating in a few weeks, and hopefully taking the bar in July,” another ASU Law student said. “With all the uncertainty surrounding that exam and the legal economy, it is a great blessing to have people like Mr. Berry generously donating to help students."

Berry, who earned his bachelor’s degree in insurance (1969) and a Juris Doctor degree (1973) from ASU Law, has been practicing law in the Valley for more than 40 years. He has consistently supported ASU Law during that time, pointing to the university’s inclusive spirit.

“Everyone has an opportunity to be successful at ASU’s law school, no matter what background you come from,” he said. “Everyone is welcome.”

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