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Donor Gives UCLA $10 Million for Sexual Orientation Law Think Tank

Gift by Chuck Williams the largest ever to university for gay and lesbian studies

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 23, 2006—Over the past four years, Charles R. Williams has given $10 million to UCLA School of Law to create and support the Williams Project, a research center on sexual orientation law and public policy.   In recognition of his gifts and the work of the center, this Friday UCLA will officially recognize and rename it as the Williams Institute.

Williams is the largest individual donor in the law school’s history and his combined gifts represent the largest gift ever to an academic institution for gay and lesbian studies.  

The Williams Project was founded in 2001 with an endowment gift from Charles R. Williams of $2.5 million and was run by a part time employee with an annual budget of $100,000. By its inauguration on Friday, the Williams Institute will have 10 full-time employees, an annual budget of over $1 million, and an endowment of $10 million.

UCLA School of Law is the only law school in the country to have a research center dedicated to sexual orientation law and policy issues.

“Chuck Williams has been enormously generous in support of this path-breaking research center,” said UCLA School of Law Dean Michael H. Schill.  “I am extremely proud of the incredible growth and influence of the Williams Project nationwide.”  

During the past four years, the Williams Project has published a number of studies regarding state and federal policy issue, ranging from same sex marriage and adoption to the armed forces’ Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

In addition to public policy research, the Williams Project also has published legal scholarship and provides sexual orientation law trainings to state and federal judges.

“When I first started the Project, I could not have expected so much to be accomplished in such a short time,” said philanthropist Chuck Williams.  “None of my concerns about giving money to an academic institution came true.  They've done high quality work with real-world relevance.”

In addition to providing general support for the Williams Institute, Mr. Williams' gifts have specifically endowed a sexual orientation law and policy research collection and reading room in UCLA's law library, a post-graduate fellowship that supports aspiring law professors to start careers in sexual orientation law, and a visiting scholar's program that attracts top scholars from other universities to the UCLA campus.

"Chuck came to the school with a vision and has really worked to make that vision a reality," says Williams Institute Executive Director Brad Sears.   "In addition to his gifts, he has also worked to attract a number of other donors."  The Williams Project has received over $3 million in support from other donors and foundations during the past four years.

Speakers at the inauguration of newly recognized Williams Institute on Friday, February 24, in the UCLA law library from 6:30-8:30 p.m., will include UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale, UCLA School of Law Dean Michael Schill, California State Assemblymember Mark Leno, and Associate Justice of the Hawai'i Supreme Court Stephen Levinson , who in 1993 wrote the first state supreme court opinion in support of same-sex marriage, Baehr v. Lewin.

About the Williams Institute

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, formerly known as the Williams Project, is a national think tank. It advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers other policy makers and the public.

About UCLA School of Law

Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is the youngest major law school in the nation and has established a tradition of innovation in its approach to teaching, research and scholarship.  With approximately 100 faculty and 970 students, the school pioneered clinical teaching, is a leader in interdisciplinary research and training, and is at the forefront of efforts to link research to its effects on society and the legal profession.

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