David and Libby Savner Give to Support Innovative Instructional Technology

February 03, 2014

David A. Savner (JD ’68) and his wife, Libby, have made a gift of $1 million to Northwestern University School of Law to sustain instructional innovation in the classroom. Their gift will help outfit a new state-of-the-art classroom and also create an endowed fund that will provide on-going funds to make sure the new classroom keeps current with instructional technologies as they evolve. In recognition of the Savners’ important investment in this emerging area of legal education, the dedicated classroom will be named in their honor:  David and Libby Savner Hall.

“When we considered making a gift to Northwestern Law, we became intrigued with contributing to new ways of learning in the law school setting,” said David Savner. “After discussions with Dean Rodriguez and Professors [Emerson] Tiller and [Leslie] Oster, the idea of creating a classroom and technologies geared to interactive and collaborative learning became very exciting to us. We look forward to seeing these ideas brought to fruition and actively used by the students.”

The Savners’ gift makes possible the construction of a new classroom dedicated to technology-based teaching solutions. Hardware and software upgrades to existing computers and audio/visual equipment, mobile LED screens, enhanced connectivity for on-line collaboration, and flexible seating for group work, are planned for this collaborative workspace. The gift also provides ongoing funding for future technology upgrades to Savner Hall, as well as technical training for faculty and staff.

“This is a wonderful gift that will allow us to significantly improve our technology infrastructure,” said Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez. “The Savners’ gift will help us meet current needs for technology-based pedagogies and scale them up as needed in the years to come. The principal objectives of our technology strategies, strategies assisted by great gifts such as this one, are to improve student learning and support innovative legal education.”
New instructional technologies are revolutionizing higher education. In a “flipped classroom,” for example, students view lectures and engage in other learning activities on-line before they come to class, leaving class time free for discussion, problem solving, and team activities. Contemporary students expect that technology will be an integral part of the learning experience.

“Much of the new educational technology promotes learning online outside the classroom,” said Emerson Tiller, J. Landis Martin Professor of Law & Business and Senior Associate Dean of Academic Initiatives. “While online lectures and independent activities conducted through the internet interface enhance the learning environment in a variety of ways, the classroom nonetheless remains vitally important as students and professors meet in person for enhanced ‘hands on’ learning activities that the out-of-classroom technology has afforded.”

David A. Savner is a highly accomplished and widely recognized corporate attorney with expertise in mergers, acquisitions, and buyouts. After earning his JD from Northwestern Law School in 1968, he practiced law privately in Chicago and in 1987 joined the Jenner & Block law firm. In 1998 he became senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary for defense contractor, General Dynamics Corporation. He returned to Jenner & Block in 2010 following his retirement from General Dynamics. While at General Dynamics, he served as a director of Everybody Wins DC!, a Washington, D.C. based reading and mentoring program for inner-city children. He currently serves as a director of Noble Network Education Foundation. David is a Life Member of the Law Board and was honored by Northwestern University with an Alumni Merit Award in 2010.

Libby is a graduate of Washington University. She has served on the board, and as president, of the Deerfield Illinois Board of Education, and a board member of the Josselyn Center, serving the mental health needs of Chicago’s North Shore on an ability to pay basis. Since 1989 she has been active as a travel consultant.