David M. Rubenstein, ’73, has renewed his commitment to the University of Chicago Law School’s David M. Rubenstein Scholars Program with a $15 million gift that will provide full-tuition scholarships for nearly 60 outstanding students in the Classes of 2026, 2027 and 2028.
“In little more than a decade, the Rubenstein Scholars Program has become the most desired scholarship in the legal academy,” said Thomas J. Miles, dean of the Law School and the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics. “The program has attracted brilliant students to the University of Chicago Law School, and they have launched outstanding and varied careers. It is thrilling to see the program continue. We are deeply grateful to David for his incomparable leadership and support.”
The new gift brings Rubenstein’s support for the program to a total of $61 million since its inception in 2010. The Rubenstein Scholars Program provides three-year scholarships for about 10 percent of the Law School’s JD class. It was established with an initial gift of $10 million from Rubenstein, a University trustee and the co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. Rubenstein renewed his commitment in 2013 with a $10 million gift and in 2016 and 2019 with $13 million gifts.
The scholarships have had a transformative impact on the recipients, offering them the opportunity to graduate debt-free and pursue a wide variety of career paths. Rubenstein Scholars have pursued careers in government and public service, clerked on the US Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals, worked in law firms, and more.
“My grandparents immigrated to the United States in search of a better life with more opportunity for their future family,” said a Rubenstein Scholar who is a member of the Class of 2021. “Attending one of the world's best law schools with such a generous scholarship is my family's American Dream. In my future work, whether through pro bono work or eventual work as a public interest attorney, I seek to return the favor by helping others in pursuit of their own American Dream, however that may manifest for them.”
Another member of the Class of 2021 said that the Rubenstein Scholarship “made coming to UChicago a no-brainer, and I honestly believe I received here the best legal education available today.”
“I'm now able to spend two years clerking after graduation … and am considering working in the judiciary long-term if I ever get the opportunity down the line,” the recipient said.
Samuel Milner, a third-year student who chose the Law School because of the Rubenstein Scholarship, recently released a book that he dedicated to Rubenstein.
“He enabled me to take the next step in my professional career,” Milner said, quoting part of his dedication. Milner said he admires Rubenstein’s patriotic philanthropy, which has included purchasing a 1297 Magna Carta for $21.3 million in 2007 and donating it to the National Archives.
Rubenstein, who attended the Law School on a full-tuition scholarship, has said he wanted to offer students the same advantages he had. When he made his initial Rubenstein Scholars gift in 2010, he called it a “modest repayment” for his good fortune.
“David’s magnificent philanthropy has ushered in a new era at the Law School,” said Lior Strahilevitz, the Sidley Austin Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Rubenstein Scholars Program. “These scholarships have helped attract spectacular students to Hyde Park and have expanded the availability of financial aid for all our students. The talented and engaged students in our classrooms create a virtuous circle that draws outstanding faculty to teach them, and the school’s improvement across multiple dimensions has in turn made the Law School that much more appealing for current and future students.”
Two years after graduating from the Law School, Rubenstein left his law firm to serve in government, working as chief counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments before joining Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. Between 1977 and 1981, Rubenstein was Carter’s deputy assistant for domestic policy. Later, Rubenstein practiced law in Washington, DC, before co-founding The Carlyle Group 1987. Since then, Carlyle has grown into one of the world’s largest and most diversified global investment firms, with $301 billion of assets under management.
“I am pleased to continue to support the efforts of the Law School to attract the best possible law school students. Doing so strengthens the School that was so helpful to me with scholarship aid as a law school student in the 1970’s,” said Rubenstein. “One of our country’s greatest strengths is a society that values the rule of law, and well-trained law school students help build that strength.”
Rubenstein is known for his patriotic philanthropy, which has included gifts to the National Park Service, the National Archives (to which he permanently loaned his Magna Carta), the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and the Smithsonian. In the past four years, he has also published three books of interviews that explore the American story and the concept of leadership. In his latest book, The American Experiment, Rubenstein explores the notion of how America’s founding ideas and spirit have developed in the arenas of democracy, culture, and innovation.The television program, The David Rubenstein Program: Peer-to-Peer Conversations, is now in its seventh season on Bloomberg and PBS.
“David is an inspiration to our community,” Miles said. “His career illustrates the many and varied achievements that are possible with a University of Chicago Law School degree, and he is a model of visionary generosity and selfless service.”