Law Receives Record Gift

Less than a year after receiving the largest individual donation in its history, the Willamette University College of Law has surpassed that record again. The $2.5 million dollar gift was given by Rod Wendt L'80, a law alumnus who is president of JELD-WEN, one of the world's leading manufacturers of windows and doors, and his wife Carol Wendt, of Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The Wendts have designated their gift to support the College of Law's new Business Law Program, an innovative academic opportunity for students focusing on business law. The Wendt gift will endow a permanent chair to support the continuing development of the Business Law Program.

Second-year Willamette law professor Peter Letsou is the first recipient of the Roderick and Carol Wendt Chair in Business Law. Letsou, who has authored an established casebook on Business Associations, has book coming out on Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions and has written several law review articles on business law, is a leading expert in business organizations, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finances. Prior to teaching at Willamette, Letsou was a business lawyer in New York. He also spent seven years at George Mason University teaching corporate law and five years as director of the prestigious Center for Corporate Law at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

"We are very excited to have Peter as the first incumbent of the Roderick and Carol Wendt Chair in Business Law," says College of Law Dean Symeon Symeonides. "He brings an incredible wealth of knowledge, experience and leadership to his position as director of Willamette's Business Law Program."

The Wendt's gift, coupled with a recent $2 million gift from Ken L'80 and Claudia Peterson, has helped double the value of the College of Law's endowment. This is good news that "frees up tuition dollars that we can use for other purposes," according to Symeonides. "A healthy endowment is critical to helping the College of Law maintain its quality and high standards while decreasing its dependence on tuition as a source of revenue," he says.

Symeonides notes that the Wendt's gift indicates an even more important and meaningful trend. "What we are seeing," he says, "is that our graduates believe in our vision and are willing to invest in it. That's why this gift is so encouraging and gratifying."