SMU Receives $2 Million to Endow Chair in Women and the Law

Southern Methodist University has announced a $2 million gift to the Dedman School of Law from alumna and professor emerita Ellen K. Solender to endow a faculty chair in women and the law.

The Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and the Law will support a faculty member whose research, teaching, and advocacy advances equality for all women in the legal profession. The gift includes $1.5 million to endow the chair and $500,000 in operating funds, enabling the university to fill the position immediately.

Solender, who entered SMU's law school in 1968 at the age of 44, earned her J.D. in 1971, joined the faculty in 1973, and in 1977 became the second woman in the school's history to receive tenure. A recipient of the League of Women Voters' Susan B. Anthony Award in 2011, Solender also has designated gifts for the Ellen K. Solender Institute in Free Speech and Mass Media Law Fund, as well as the law library book fund.

"My mother worked for the passage of the nineteenth amendment and thought she would see equality in her lifetime. I thought I would see it in mine," said Solender, who retired in 1994. "Now I worry whether my granddaughter and my great-great nieces will see equality in their lifetimes. I now realize these were only milestones on a longer journey to equality. These issues are so important to me, it is my hope that this endowed chair could be a catalyst and hopefully speed up the journey to equality for women."