UCLA School of Law has received a $5.5 million gift from philanthropist Charles R. "Chuck" Williams to support the leadership of the Williams Institute — the first and only law school initiative dedicated to the study of sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy — and to foster the institute's growth in the next decade.
"We are honored by the ongoing philanthropic investment of Chuck Williams," said Rachel F. Moran, dean of the law school. "With this generous gift, he continues to play a transformative role in helping the Williams Institute expand knowledge at the intersection of sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy."
Since its founding in 2001 with an inaugural $2.5 million gift from Williams — at that time the largest donation ever given to any academic institution in support of a gay and lesbian academic program, in any discipline — the institute has gained national renown as an academic research center dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.
To date, Williams has committed more than $15 million to help establish the institute as a preeminent source of high-quality research in this area, with real-world relevance for judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public.
"Chuck Williams recognized a critical need for high-quality academic research focused on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people," said Brad Sears, assistant dean at the law school and executive director of the Williams Institute. "Because of his generosity, the Williams Institute has set a high bar for research, policy analysis and education that directly inform LGBT issues. This remarkable new gift will fuel our growth as we expand our domestic and international research and education programs."
Growth has been central to the Williams Institute's success. During the past 12 years, what began as a small, part-time staff has expanded to 20 prominent scholars representing a broad range of backgrounds and disciplines. Experts at the Williams Institute have authored dozens of public policy studies and law review articles; filed amicus briefs in key court cases; provided expert testimony at legislative hearings; been widely cited in the national media; and trained more than 3,000 judges in the area of sexual orientation law.
"In a relatively short period of time, the Williams Institute has made enormous strides in enriching the dialog about equality in this country and around the world," Williams said. "I am very proud of what has been accomplished so far, and I know that going forward, the institute is poised to address issues that make a real difference in people's lives."
Williams is the president of Williams and Associates. Until 1985, he worked as a senior executive for Sperry Corp., where he held several positions, including vice president for strategic and business planning and vice president and general manager for worldwide operations. Most recently, he has taught business courses in policy and strategy, and he consults in this area. Williams is currently a board member of The UCLA Foundation and the UCLA School of Law board of advisors, as well as a member of the Gill Foundation's OutGiving advisory committee. He has been recognized by various LGBT organizations and publications. Williams received a B.A. degree and an M.B.A. degree from UCLA.
UCLA School of Law, founded in 1949, 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 1,100 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. For more information on UCLA School of Law, please visit www.law.ucla.edu.