Ellen K. Solender entered Southern Methodist University School of Law as a student in 1968. Shortly after graduating, she joined the staff and, in 1977, became the second woman in the history of the law school to received tenure. Now, she has gifted $2 million to the school, since renamed SMU Dedman School of Law, to fund the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and the Law.
“My mother worked for the passage of the 19th Amendment and thought she would see equality in her lifetime. I thought I would see it in mine,” Solender said. “Now I worry whether my granddaughter and my great-great-nieces will see equality in their lifetimes. I now realize these were only milestones on a longer journey to equality. These issues are so important to me, it is my hope that this endowed chair could be a catalyst and hopefully speed up the journey to equality for women.”
The chair, which the university is seeking to fill immediately, will support a faculty member to encourage research, teaching, and advocacy in legal education and the legal profession, aimed at advancing equality for all women.
“She has dedicated her career to promoting equity and mentored countless women along the way,” said Jennifer Collins, the school’s first female dean. “This gift will allow the law school to continue Professor Solender’s important work on issues that will advance the rights of women, ensure gender equality, and train lawyers to pursue these goals."