Verna L. Williams, Michael L.  Cioffi, and Rachael A. Rowe. Photos provided

By Julia Mace, APR 

Director, External Communications

Strategic Communications

Through a principal gift to the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Cincinnati legal leaders and UC alumni have created a new scholarship and honored a former Dean and Cincinnati Civil Rghts leader.

Alumni Michael L.  Cioffi, JD ’79, and Rachael A. Rowe, JD ’96, created the scholarship with a gift to start the Verna L. Williams and David Singleton Dean’s Scholarship for Inclusive Excellence.

Michael A. Cioffi. Photo provided

“Rachael and I are so proud to be graduates of the University of Cincinnati College of Law and admire the many accomplishments of thousands of our fellow alums,” said Cioffi. “With this gift we hope to increase the good work to come by future graduates and assure that their achievements better the lives of all in society.

“We are especially proud and honored to name this scholarship as a tribute to Dean Verna Williams and David Singleton, a most impressive couple, both of whom have been tireless advocates for justice, Civil Rights, diversity and inclusion for all in society, particularly those who have been ignored, marginalized and disadvantaged.”

The couple are Cincinnati residents, practicing attorneys and are very involved in their alma mater. Cioffi is chair of the Cincinnati office and Partner at law firm Blank Rome. He also has been an adjunct professor at the College of Law for over 35 years and serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board. Rowe is Practice Group Leader and Partner at Keating, Muething & Klekamp, PLL, a nationally recognized law firm. She is also a former member of the College’s Board of Visitors.

Rachael A. Rowe. Photo provided

The gift will provide significant funding to an incoming law student at the college.

“Here at UC Law, we believe deeply in student success, as evidenced by our bar passage rates and employment figures, which place us among the top schools in Ohio, and indeed the broader region,” says Dean Haider ala Hamoudi. “We know that this success can only be achieved by recruiting top students to attend UC Law, and by supporting them in an inclusive community where all feel that they belong.

“I am very grateful for Michael and Rachel’s deep dedication to their alma matter and for their commitment to helping us achieve our mission of educating and inspiring leaders who pursue justice and advance the role of law in society. It is through their generosity that our students will be able to pursue their education and launch their unlimited futures without financial burdens.”

Dean Verna Williams, University Cincinnati College of Law portrait photos at the Innovation Hub. UC/Joseph Fuqua II

The scholarship is named for former dean Verna Williams, who served as interim dean of the college from 2017-2019 before being appointed dean in May of 2019. She was the first African American to lead the law school, which is the fourth-oldest continuously operating law school in the country. Williams focused on student success and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts during her time at UC, and drove the creation of The Legal Access Clinic at UC, now entering its second year.

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