Law School Receives $3 Million Gift from Howard and Elizabeth Chapman

April 10, 2013

Gift provides support for business law, trial advocacy, or trust and estate law faculty

Northwestern Law School is pleased to announce that Howard and Elizabeth “Betsy” Chapman have made a $3 million gift to establish a chaired professorship in their name. The professorship will promote scholarly work focused in one or more of the following areas: business law, trial advocacy, or trust or estate law.

“This is an important gift,” said Dean Daniel Rodriguez. “The Chapman’s generosity helps further our goal of recruiting and retaining an exemplary group of scholars and teachers. We are extremely grateful for this vote of confidence in our bold ambitions, especially in the business law area.”

Howard’s understanding of the importance of legal and regulatory structures on the business community was instrumental to establishing this professorship. This understanding was the result of a life of practice in banking and finance, corporate, and real estate law.

Howard attended Northwestern University on an academic scholarship. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1956 and went from there to the Law School—again on an academic scholarship—where he was an associate editor of the Northwestern University Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

Howard and Betsy met at Northwestern, which she attended from 1953 to 1955. They married in 1955. Following Howard’s graduation from the Law School in 1958, they moved to her hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Howard began his long and distinguished career in the law.

In 1958 Howard joined Shoaff, Keegan & Baird; he became a partner in 1963. In 1970, he helped establish the firm of Bonahoom, Chapman & McNellis, which merged in 1986 with Barrett, Barrett and McNagny to form Barrett & McNagny, one of Indiana’s largest law practices. He was a partner at that firm until he became Of Counsel in 2003. Howard served as president of the Allen County Bar Association, and on the boards of the Waterfield Mortgage Company and the Union Federal Bank of Indianapolis. 

Betsy, an accomplished musician, has performed at the Arena Theatre, the Fort Wayne Youtheatre, and the First Presbyterian Theatre. She earned a degree in English from Indiana University-Purdue in 1974. She has coauthored three musical plays for children, which have been performed nationally, and she has served on the boards of numerous community and charitable organizations, including the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, and Arts United of Allen County.

Together, the Chapmans have a distinguished history of giving and volunteering. They established the Howard and Betsy Chapman Law Scholarship Fund to support students at the Law School, as well as the Chapman Scholars program and the Chapman Distinguished Professorship in the Department of English and Linguistics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Howard served on a Law School Reunion Committee, and as an officer, director, and committee member of many civic and charitable organizations in Indiana.

Their philanthropy is not limited to Northwestern; they support organizations including the Community Harvest Food Bank, Purdue University, the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, and the United Way.

Howard is thankful for the scholarships that made it possible for him to attend Northwestern. Through their philanthropy, Howard and Betsy support the work of the next generation of scholars and students.