Jan. 6, 1999Writer: Denise StobbieSource: Fredric Levin (850) 435-7123 Richard Matasar (352) 392-9238
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- A gift from prominent trial lawyer Fredric G. Levin to the University of Florida College of Law will result in a $20 million endowment, immediately transforming the college into one of the best-funded public law schools in the nation. The gift, the second-largest ever to a public U.S. law school, will be formally announced by UF officials Monday (1/11/99) at a luncheon in Levin's hometown of Pensacola. In recognition of Levin's distinguished career and history of support and service to the university and the state of Florida, UF President John V. Lombardi also will announce that the college -- which has graduated generations of Florida's leaders in law, business, education and government in its 90-year history -- will be named the Fredric G. Levin College of Law. "This latest extraordinary gift from Mr. Levin will have an immediate and permanent impact on the quality of legal education and the quality of legal services in Florida," Lombardi said. "His gift ensures that this state will have a law school that meets and exceeds the very highest standards of academic excellence and service to the state, nation and international community. We are indeed grateful to Mr. Levin and to the Levin family for their legacy of giving to the University of Florida." The college will be housed in the two existing buildings, which will continue to bear the names Spessard L. Holland Hall and Bruton-Geer Hall. In addition, fund raising is in progress to build an adjacent state-of-the-art academic building. Levin's gift of $10 million -- the largest one-time cash gift from an individual to UF -- will be eligible for state matching funds of $10 million to create the $20 million Fredric G. and Marilyn Kapner Levin Endowment Fund. The endowment will generate more than $1 million a year to support the college's mission of quality education, cutting-edge research and public service at the state, national and international level, said UF law Dean Richard A. Matasar. He added that the additional resources will enhance academic centers and institutes in areas of curricular strength, including dispute resolution, tax law, intellectual property law, environmental law,international law, race relations, professionalism, and legal technology. The gift will increase the college's private endowment to approximately $50 million, which places it "near the top of the nation's public law school endowments," Matasar said. "This gift propels us toward our goal of becoming one of the top five public law schools in America." "It's a new ball game for Florida," Matasar said. "It's as if we went to sleep as one law school and woke up a different one. This gift will allow us to do things that other law schools only dream about. It is an investment in quality people and programs, which ties in beautifully with our emphasis on professionalism and the advancement of legal scholarship. It also will serve as a fulcrum for efforts to raise funds for our new academic building, which will allow our students to study and work alongside practicing lawyers, judges and teachers." Matasar also holds the Levin, Mabie & Levin Professorship of Law, established at the college in 1995 by Levin, along with his brother, David, and their late law partner, Lefferts Mabie II, through a gift of land valued in excess of $1 million. All three are UF law alumni. Levin also endowed a professorship at the University of West Florida in 1984 in an amount exceeding $1 million. "Mr. Levin and his firm and family are incredibly generous people, and the naming of our law school after him is a tribute to their values," Matasar said. "He is a terrific individual and a great lawyer. His love is the law, and he wants to ensure that this law school imparts that love to others." Levin said he never forgot that a degree from Florida's preeminent College of Law launched his career as one of America's most prominent trial lawyers. "This gift is a continuation of my history of giving to public education and is in some way a repayment for the education I received at the University of Florida. Law school changed my whole life; it was there that I gained a sense of purpose and found that I could be good at something. I would hope this gift will further advance the quality and ranking of the University of Florida nationally, and I am pleased to be in a position to assist the university and public education in general." Levin, 61, who earned bachelor's and law degrees from UF, is chairman of Pensacola's largest law firm, Levin, Middlebrooks, Thomas, Mitchell, Green, Echsner, Proctor & Papantonio, P.A. He has held national records for jury verdicts involving wrongful death and personal injury and recently was a key member of the team of attorneys that produced the state's $13.2 billion settlement with major tobacco companies over health care costs. Certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Levin is a member of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates and received the 1994 Perry Nichols Award from the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers. He has been listed in every edition of "Best Lawyers in America." Attorney and manager for some of the greatest boxers in the world, including Roy Jones Jr. and Ike Quartey, Levin also was voted "Manager of the Year" by the Boxing Writers of America in 1993. Levin is one of five brothers who all received degrees from UF. He and his wife have four children, all of whom attended UF; three earned advanced degrees -- two in law and one in business.
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