Cleveland-Marshall receives $750,000 gift to create new leadership program

Dec. 10, 2018

By Kevin McGhee

Following a $750,000 donation from local attorney and alumnus P. Kelly Tompkins, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s (CM-Law) has established a comprehensive leadership education program for its law students.

Tompkins and the school’s dean, Lee Fisher, created the initiative called the P. Kelly Tompkins Leadership and Law Program. The program “seeks to educate students not only to be great lawyers but also to be great leaders,” according to the school’s news release.

The current components of the program include the Dean’s Leadership Fellows Scholarship, Dean’s Leadership Fellows Program, new curriculum development with a focus on leadership, a leader-in-residence program, an annual “Leader on the Rise” award, a visiting leader lecture and conversation series and continuing education programming in leadership.

“I would like to thank Kelly Tompkins for this generous donation which will enhance CM-Law’s national reputation as a ‘first mover’ and legal education innovator, and provide a model for future leadership initiatives at CSU,” said Harlan Sands, president of Cleveland State, in the news release.

Tompkins is a 1981 graduate of the school who now serves as a Cleveland-Marshall leader-in-residence and vice chair of the CM-Law board of visitors. He is also a senior adviser at Dix & Eaton, a Cleveland-based public relations firm.

He is a past recipient of the Cleveland State University George B. Davis Service Award and Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year. He delivered the commencement address for the 2005 Cleveland-Marshall graduating class and was an inaugural inductee into the CM-Law Hall of Fame in 2017.

“Lawyers often follow a career trajectory that propels them into positions of leadership, to the point that the profession is disproportionately represented,” Tompkins said. “Ironically, there is a lack of leadership training offered by law schools. Through CM-Law’s Leadership and Law Program, we will equip students with the strategies and skills necessary to answer the inevitable call to leadership.”

In addition to the new program, the school is actively exploring hosting a national conference focused on leadership training for law students and lawyers. These plans are still in their infancy stage, however.
“Kelly’s generous gift will help to ensure the new CM-Law Leadership and Law program can be sustainable for the future,” Fisher said in a news release. “CM-Law has produced a remarkable number of leaders in law, public service, business and the judiciary – leadership is in our school’s DNA. Support from engaged alumni leaders like Kelly ensures that our graduates will be better prepared to lead in the near future and for generations to come.”


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