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January 21, 2016

Villanova law gets new name after 'transformative' $25 million gift

Charles Widger provides funding for expanded scholarships, new faculty and enhanced curriculum

Education Villanova University
012116_Wigder Contributed Art/

Charles Widger, chairman and founder of Brinker Capital.

After receiving a gift of $25 million toward new scholarships, faculty expansion and curriculum development, Villanova University will rename its law school after benefactor Charles Widger, who graduated from the program in 1973 before founding Berwyn-based Brinker Capital.

The gift is the largest ever to the law school and the second largest received by the university as a whole, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

John Gotanda, Dean of the new Charles Widger School of Law, described the gift as a "transformative" step that will provide a Villanova law education to students who otherwise would not be able to afford tuition.

Villanova began to shift its law curriculum to more business coursework and a professional focus in 2011 after a scandal revealed the previous administration falsified data on admissions. The new strategic direction was embraced by Widger when he became the chairman of Villanova Law from 2013-2015.

Widger previously donated $1.25 million in 2013 to establish a center for law and entrepreneurship. According to Gotanda, Widger's latest gift came from a desire to build on the momentum of the law center and forward the university's $600 million Comprehensive Capital Campaign.

The scholarship portion of the gift will benefit prospective students with law and business interests and a history of demonstrated leadership skills.