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Law School Receives A $6 Million Robina Grant For Transformative Plan

DECEMBER 16, 2008—The University of Minnesota Law School’s agenda of transforming legal education and research to address some of the greatest legal and social challenges of the 21st century has gotten significant support from a former student. The Robina Foundation, created by James H. Binger ('41), has granted the Law School $6.01 million to be administered over five years. The funding will provide backing for the Law School's new Program on Law, Public Policy, and Society (LaPPS), which will support innovative public policy research and prepare law students to serve as agents of social transformation.

The Program will stimulate inventive new policy proposals and train students in analytical skills, visionary and pragmatic approaches to law, and development of practical solutions to complex problems. With Robina Foundation support, the Law School aims to become a nationally recognized center for public policy research and a national model of curriculum reform.

With Robina Foundation funding, the Law School will establish:

  • Two research chairs in LaPPS
  • A clinical chair in LaPPS
  • A research fund for LaPPS
  • Four capstone courses
  • Annual conferences in LaPPS
  • 50 law student internships in public policy

John Borrows, a professor of law at the University of Victoria and a scholar in indigenous law, will join the Law School in September, adding his expertise to the International Law and Human Rights faculty. Borrows will be the first to hold one of the new Chairs in Law, Public Policy, and Society.   [To read the news story about John Borrows' faculty appointment, click here.]

Binger created the Robina Foundation shortly before his death in November 2004 to fund creative, forward-thinking projects proposed by four institutions—the Law School, Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Yale University, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Funding from the Robina Foundation is intended for exploration of new ideas and transformative new approaches to complex issues. The University of Minnesota and the Law School will provide additional funding for ongoing support of clinical and research chairs in LaPPS.

Binger was born in St. Paul and earned a degree in economics from Yale College in 1938. He returned to Minnesota to attend the Law School and subsequently joined the law firm that would become Dorsey & Whitney. In 1943, he joined Honeywell and became its president in 1961 and its chairman in 1965. Binger served on many boards, including those of 3M, Northwest Airlines, AT&T, the McKnight Foundation, the International Peace Academy, and the Guthrie Theater, and he founded and owned a theater company on Broadway in New York. A dedicated patron of many educational and social-advancement organizations, Binger was widely recognized for his quiet philanthropy. The Law School's Everett Fraser Chair in Law and the Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center were established through Binger’s generosity.

Portrait of James H. Binger, class of 1941

James H. Binger ('41)