UCLA Law Honors School Pioneers with Three New Scholarships

$2 million gift from anonymous donor supports tuition costs for high-achieving students from challenged backgrounds

20180606 Mills Nelson Pound Scholarships

L-R: Billy Mills, Dorothy Nelson and Roscoe Pound










UCLA School of Law has created endowed scholarships honoring Billy Mills '54, Dorothy Nelson '53 and Roscoe Pound, three legendary figures affiliated with the school. The scholarships, funded by a $2 million gift from an anonymous donor and support from the UCLA Chancellor's Centennial Scholarship Match program, will be awarded to academically talented students who have overcome substantial obstacles to pursue law school careers.

About the honorees:

  • The Billy Mills Scholarship is named for the first African-American graduate of UCLA School of Law. Mills served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1963 to 1974, a tumultuous time that included the 1965 Watts riots and subsequent efforts, led by Mills and others, to address the injustice faced by minority communities the city. Mills was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1973, and served on the court for more than 20 years.
  • The Dorothy Nelson Scholarship is named for an early female graduate of the law school who went on to earn prominent roles in legal education and the judiciary. A member of the UCLA Law class of 1953, Nelson was became the first female dean of a major law school when she was named dean of the USC school of law in 1967. In 1979 President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where she continues to serve on senior status.
  • The Roscoe Pound Scholarship is named for the storied legal scholar who served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1916 to 1936 and then joined the UCLA Law faculty in the school's earliest years, 1949 to 1952. An extraordinarily influential teacher and author, Pound was a leading advocate of the theory that the law and legal institutions must respond to changing social conditions as well as traditional legal doctrines.

"Roscoe Pound was an intellectual giant who helped set UCLA Law on its course as a leader in legal education," said Dean Jennifer L. Mnookin. "Billy Mills is a true pioneer who has inspired so many of our students with his example and his guidance as a city councilman and as a judge. And Judge Nelson – as the first woman to serve as a dean of a major law school and as an enormously distinguished jurist, has been a role model, mentor and inspiration to so many women lawyers and leaders, including to me, personally. There is no finer way to honor them than with these endowed scholarships in their names. I am so grateful for the generosity that makes these endowed scholarships possible."

The scholarships will be awarded primarily through UCLA Law's innovative Achievement Fellowship program to high-achieving applicants who also have faced obstacles such as socio-economic or educational hardships, disabilities, or other major challenges. UCLA Law alumni participate in the screening and interview process for participants, advising the school on top candidates and engaging with the candidates on their paths to success.

The Achievement Fellowship program, launched in the 2017-18 academic year, has helped to attract and support more than a dozen exceptional UCLA Law students, including those who are first in their families to complete college, who come from divided or troubled families, and who have demonstrated leadership in addressing social justice issues.

The gift is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019, during UCLA's 100th anniversary year.