Emory Law gets $5M grant from Southern Co. for civil rights center

The entrance to the Emory University School of Law. ERIC STIRGUS/ERIC.STIRGUS@AJC.COM.

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The entrance to the Emory University School of Law. ERIC STIRGUS/ERIC.STIRGUS@AJC.COM.

Emory University School of Law’s focus on civil and human rights and social justice is getting a major boost.

Just months after landing a prestigious chair, the school has received what they are calling a “transformative” $5 million grant from the Southern Company Foundation to establish the Emory University School of Law Center for Civil Rights and Social Justice.

That is the largest single gift ever given to the law school.

The foundation also is contributing $2 million to Emory University to support other student initiatives through Emory College and Winship Cancer Center.

Emory President Gregory L. Fenves called the Southern Company grant a “visionary investment.”

“By making this historic and timely gift to Emory University, they have sent a powerful message about our shared commitment to civil rights and social justice,” Fenves said.

Emory Law Dean Mary Anne Bobinski said the grant will provide the critical funding necessary to fulfill a key strategic priority for the law school.

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Mary Anne Bobinski dean of Emory University's law school.

Mary Anne Bobinski dean of Emory University's law school.

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Mary Anne Bobinski dean of Emory University's law school.

“The law school’s new strategic plan establishes civil rights and social justice as key areas of focus for research, teaching and community engagement,” Bobinski said. “Southern Company Foundation’s record-breaking gift will enable Emory Law to accelerate our work in these critically important areas and to address long-standing challenges related to civil rights and social justice through research and university and community partnerships.”

According to the university, the newly established center will serve as a hub for interdisciplinary scholarship, research, teaching, evidence-based policy reform, and community outreach that improves the lives of individuals who have experienced violations of their civil rights and been impacted by social injustice.

Earlier this year, Darren Hutchinson was named the inaugural John Lewis Chair for Civil Rights and Social Justice at the School of Law.

The philanthropically funded John Lewis Chair for Civil Rights and Social Justice is intended to serve as a lasting tribute to the legacy of “good trouble” advocated by the late congressman from Georgia’s Fifth District and establish Emory Law as a leader in teaching, research, and community engagement related to civil rights and social justice.

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Acclaimed legal scholar and social justice advocate Darren Lenard Hutchinson is Emory University's inaugural John Lewis Chair for Civil Rights and Social Justice. Photo courtesy of University of Florida Levin College of Law. CONTRIBUTED

Acclaimed legal scholar and social justice advocate Darren Lenard Hutchinson is Emory University's inaugural John Lewis Chair for Civil Rights and Social Justice. Photo courtesy of University of Florida Levin College of Law. CONTRIBUTED

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Acclaimed legal scholar and social justice advocate Darren Lenard Hutchinson is Emory University's inaugural John Lewis Chair for Civil Rights and Social Justice. Photo courtesy of University of Florida Levin College of Law. CONTRIBUTED

Hutchinson was recruited from the University of Florida, where he was the Raymond & Miriam Ehrlich Eminent Scholar Chair at the Levin College of Law.

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Chris Womack chief executive officer of Georgia Power. Photo courtesy of Georgia Power.

Chris Womack chief executive officer of Georgia Power. Photo courtesy of Georgia Power.

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Chris Womack chief executive officer of Georgia Power. Photo courtesy of Georgia Power.

“We are incredibly pleased that Emory has further prioritized issues of social justice in our society with the recruitment of Professor Hutchinson as the John Lewis Chair,” said Chris Womack, CEO of Georgia Power, a unit of Southern Company. “Through this new center, we now look forward to helping Emory Law build programs to advance civil rights, equity, and justice in our community and nationwide.”