Pritzker Family Makes Unprecedented Gift to Northwestern Law

Largest law school gift ever will support scholarships, public interest initiatives, entrepreneurship and multidisciplinary education

Pritzker Gift Event
Photo Credit: Jim Prisching

Watch a video of the announcement to the community

Northwestern University School of Law alumnus J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M.K. Pritzker, have made a $100 million gift that will significantly advance the mission and vision of Pritzker’s alma mater, one of the nation’s leading law schools.

The 156-year-old school will be named the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

The Pritzkers’ gift is the largest single gift ever to any law school.

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and Law School Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez made the announcement during an event at the Law School on October 22, 2015.

The Pritzkers’ game-changing gift will allow the best students, no matter what their socio-economic background, to get a legal education at one of the top law schools in the country. In addition, it simultaneously focuses on the advancement of the study of law, business, and technology, and on public interest initiatives in the areas of civil and human rights.

The funding will help support and advance the Law School’s strategy of developing new kinds of highly marketable lawyers—creative, constructive problem-solvers armed with entrepreneurial and multidisciplinary skills, resolutely committed to social justice and the rule of law.  

The gift supports several social justice centers at Northwestern Law School, including the Center on Wrongful Convictions, the Children and Family Justice Center, the Center on International Human Rights, the Environmental Law Center, and other key programs to improve civil society and implement justice.

The gift will also permanently endow and rename the Law School’s Entrepreneurship Law Center; it will become the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurial Law Center, honoring J.B. Pritzker’s father, who was co-founder and chief executive of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. The gift also will support endeavors to develop students’ entrepreneurial skills and to advance law-business-technology initiatives, including the Master of Science in Law program for professionals employed in the scientific, engineering and medical fields.

“Our increasingly complex and dynamic world demands lawyers who are trained to tackle difficult legal and policy problems and to work imaginatively at the interface of law, business and technology,” said Rodriguez. “This extraordinary gift will help provide the financial foundation for this law school to produce a new breed of highly skilled, adaptive lawyers—creative, constructive problem-solvers armed with multidisciplinary skills and resolutely committed to social justice and the rule of law.”   

The Pritzker gift will benefit future generations of Northwestern law students and faculty, said President Schapiro. “J.B. and M.K. are such good friends of the University, and their extraordinary commitment will allow a bold future for an already great law school,” he said.

The Pritzkers are longtime Northwestern supporters. They have made gifts to the University for 16 consecutive years, and are members of NU Loyal, Northwestern’s giving society that recognizes consecutive years of giving. 

The gift honors the significant contributions of the Pritzker family to the fields of law, business and public service. Nicholas J. Pritzker arrived in Chicago in 1881 and grew up an immigrant in poverty. He was admitted to the Illinois College of Law in 1900 and put himself through school, eventually building a highly successful law practice.

J.B.’s father, Donald Pritzker, was co-founder and the chief executive who built the Hyatt Hotels Corporation into a global hospitality brand.

Three generations after Nicholas Pritzker raised himself out of poverty, the Pritzker family has become one of the nation’s most successful business families and attributes its success to the study of law and to entrepreneurship. Following Nicholas’s lead, Pritzker family members, including the benefactors of this gift, J.B. and M.K. Pritzker, remain committed to improving the communities in which they live. The naming of the Law School honors the history and the successive generations of the Pritzker family and its dedication to the principles of American law and the practice of ethics and values in entrepreneurial American business.

J.B. Pritzker received his J.D. from Northwestern Law in 1993. Equal to his philanthropic support has been his strong dedication and longstanding service to both the Law School and the University. He is a life member of the Northwestern Law Board, and he joined the University's Board of Trustees in 2004.

J.B. Pritzker is cofounder and managing partner of Pritzker Group. He is a leader in the Chicago entrepreneurship community and has been the key driver in growing and strengthening the entrepreneurship, innovation and technology sectors. His venture capital firm is one of the largest and most successful in the nation.

M.K. Pritzker is a director of the Pritzker Family Foundation and serves as a trustee of the Northwestern Memorial Foundation. She is also founder of the Evergreen Invitational Foundation, which supports innovative programs and research studies at Northwestern Memorial Hospital that further explore and address important women’s health issues.

In September of 2014, the Law School announced Motion to Lead: The Campaign for Northwestern Law, the largest fundraising campaign in the school’s history, to support financial aid, curricular innovation and social justice initiatives.