Sandors make major gift to Law School; Coase-Sandor Institute named to honor mentor

Dean Michael Schill announced today that Dr. Richard Sandor, Chairman and CEO of Environmental Financial Products LLC, and his wife Ellen are the principal donors to a $10 million endowment in law and economics at the University of Chicago Law School. The Sandors made the gift in honor of Richard’s mentor, Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase, Clifton R. Musser Professor Emeritus of Economics at the Law School.

In honor of Coase’s path-breaking work and Sandor’s own extraordinarily important innovations in the world of finance and the environment, the Institute for Law and Economics will be renamed the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics. Current and future work of the Coase-Sandor Institute will focus on the role of law, private property rights and transaction costs in promoting efficient markets. Scholars at the Institute also will study the appropriate relationship between transactions, government regulation, self-regulation and economically efficient outcomes in such disparate substantive areas as climate change, water, endangered species, health care, education, housing and corporate restructuring.

“Over half a century, Ronald Coase’s pioneering work has exemplified the distinctive and powerful nature of University of Chicago scholarship. By transcending the traditional boundaries of two disciplines, Professor Coase helped shape a new field of thought in law and economics,” said University President Robert J. Zimmer. “It is fitting that the inquiry he helped spark continues in an institute that bears his name, and we are grateful to Richard and Ellen Sandor for making that possible.”

“Richard Sandor has been an extraordinary innovator in the financial world for decades and is also an intellectual heavyweight on matters of economics,” said Michael H. Schill, Dean of the Law School and Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law. “His generous gift to the Institute for Law and Economics celebrates the tradition of innovation that Ronald Coase began and Richard has continued here at Chicago Law. It has been such a boon to our students to have Richard teach in our classrooms and become an important part of our intellectual community.  His gift shows his extraordinary commitment not only to the future of one of the most important ideas in the history of legal scholarship, but also to his mentor, Ronald Coase. It was very important to Richard to name the Institute for Ronald Coase and very important to us to recognize Richard and Ellen in the name of our Institute as well.”

Sandor is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Environmental Financial Products LLC, which specializes in inventing, designing and developing new financial markets. EFP was established in 1998, and was the predecessor company and incubator to the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the European Climate Exchange (ECX) and the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange (CCFE).  Ellen Sandor is an internationally acclaimed artist and founder of (art)n. She is currently an Affiliate of eDream, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Mrs. Sandor has had work displayed in galleries and museums throughout the world, including the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Museum Victoria, Australia, the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. Art in Embassies Program (Germany and Zimbabwe), and the Musée Carnavalet, Paris. She recently received the Thomas R. Leavens Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts through Lawyers for the Creative Arts. She is currently co-editing a forthcoming book that chronicles the oral history of pioneering, female, new media artists. Ellen and Richard are both major philanthropists who support a wide array of institutions, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the International Center of Photography, and the Gene Siskel Film Center.

The Sandors are also major philanthropists to the University of California – Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, the University of Oklahoma, and the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.

While on sabbatical from the University of California, Berkeley in the early 1970s, Richard Sandor served as vice president and chief economist of the Chicago Board of Trade. It was at that time that he earned the reputation as the principal architect of the interest-rate futures market. Sandor was honored by the City of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Trade for his contribution to the creation of financial futures and his universal recognition as the "father of financial futures." In October 2007, he was honored as one of Time Magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment” for his work as the “father of carbon trading.” In addition to his service as a lecturer at the Law School, Sandor is a distinguished professor of environmental finance at Guanghua School of Management at Peking University and a member of its International Advisory Council. In 2012, he authored a book entitled Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation.

Sandor said that Coase shaped his thinking throughout his career.

“Professor Coase has had a profound impact in my career as an academic and practitioner. His clarity of thought and intellectual honesty have been critical to my understanding of what it takes to create, build and nurture new markets. The importance of his work will continue to be felt in areas such as the environment, health and entrepreneurship. Ellen and I are proud and humbled to make this contribution to help ensure that Coase’s legacy will continue to have an impact on scholars, entrepreneurs and policy makers in the United States and around the world.”

Coase has served on the faculty of the Law School since 1964. His impact on the fields of both economics and law has been profound. His 1937 paper, “The Nature of the Firm,” established the field of transaction cost economics. “The Problem of Social Cost,” published in 1961, set out what is now commonly called the “Coase Theorem” and pioneered a new field in economic research, “law and economics.” Professor Coase was the editor of the University of Chicago’s Journal of Law and Economics from 1964 to 1982. Among his many publications are The Firm, the Market and the Law (1988) and Essays on Economics and Economists (1994). Professor Coase was awarded the Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1991, the first and only time that award was given to a professor whose primary appointment was in a law school. His current work, including the book How China Became Capitalist (with Ning Wang, PhD’02) continues to use the tools of law and economics to understand the modern history of China.

“I am very grateful to both the University of Chicago Law School, my academic home for many decades, and to Richard and Ellen Sandor for this honor,” said Coase. “It is wonderful to know that after all these years and all the work that has been done, that ideas are still, and ever will be, paramount at Chicago. I am delighted that law and economics has a secure future at the Law School, and cannot wait to see the new scholarship that comes from the Institute.”

Building on a long tradition of excellence as the birthplace of law and economics, the University of Chicago Law School launched the Institute for Law and Economics in 2011. The goal of the Coase-Sandor Institute is to promote the understanding and dissemination of the economic approach to law, including transaction cost economics, empirical analysis and economic theory. It supports research and learning by students, faculty, and fellows, and organizes events and activities in Chicago and beyond. Sandor’s gift will support all facets of the Coase-Sandor Institute’s mission, including research, teaching, scholarships and conferences.  Additional gifts over the past year have included two research chairs for young scholars.

“The Institute for Law and Economics is founded on the intellectual legacy of Ronald Coase, who demonstrated how economics can reshape our thinking about the law,” said Omri Ben-Shahar, the Leo and Eileen Herzel Professor of Law and Kearney Director of the Coase-Sandor Institute. “Richard Sandor's financial innovations and entrepreneurship exemplify the enormous practical value of Coase's insights. In naming the Coase-Sandor Institute, we celebrate 50 years of law and economics at the University of Chicago and its deep influence on both legal thought and public policy.”