Law School Endowment Honors Desegregation Pioneer

Anonymous Donor Contributes Nearly $1 Mil to Underwrite Chair

Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher as she enrolled as a student at the law school at the University of Oklahoma.

NORMAN—A gift has been received by the College of Law of the University of Oklahoma that will secure an endowed chair named in honor of Dr. Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher.

Dr. Fisher became the first Black to graduate from the law school.

Last year, the school launched an effort to endow a chair named for Dr. Fisher on the 70th anniversary of her admission to the law school.

Plans were to recruit an outstanding faculty in civil rights, race relations and justice in the law.

Since the launching last September, nearly 80 donors contributed nearly $100,000 to endow the chair and, this month, an anonymous contributor donated $910,000 to the fund, making the chair a reality.

“This faculty position will empower law students with the tools necessary to engage in meaningful civil rights legal work,” a statement said.

The anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $900,000 in any continuing donations.

Mrs. Fisher was admitted to the law school in 1949, an event ending a three-year legal battle that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Her landmark case lay the groundwork for the desegregation in public education in the nation.

“We are so grateful to our generous alumni and to the particular efforts of the University of Oklahoma Black Law Students Association and Prof. Melissa Mortazavi for her vision in creating and supporting the fund,” said  Katheleen Guzman, interim law school dean.

“Without their support, our effort to recruit a national expert in this field would have been delayed given our public health crisis and budgetary constraints.

“By recognizing Dr. Fisher and the meaning of her battle, this endowment recognizes the power that love, conviction and action hold.

“It could not come at a more opportune time, and will help further OU Law’s mission to provide a well-rounded education and experience for the next generation of lawyers and leaders.” 

After law school, Dr. Fisher practiced law in Chickasha and later joined the faculty at Langston University.

In 1992, she was appointed to the Board of Regents of the university.

She   died in 1995, leaving a legacy impacting not only Oklahoma, but the nation, as well.

OU Joseph Harroz Jr., president of the university, noted the affect of the gift.

“This exceptional gift to establish an endowed chair in Dr. Fisher’s honor ensures that her legacy will live on for generations,” Mr. Harroz said.

“As future lawyers, our law students will be obligated to uphold justice and protect the rights of all.

“Having a leading faculty expert in civil rights law will further instill the importance of this undertaking.”

For more information or to contribute to the additional $90,000 in matching funds, one may visit link.ou.edu/alsfchair.

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