Elon Law class gift honors the memory of former dean

Led by a matching gift from an anonymous donor, Elon Law’s Class of 2020 expanded a student emergency fund and sponsored a memorial that will celebrate the legacy of Dean Emeritus George R. Johnson, Jr.

Dean Emeritus and Professor George R. Johnson, Jr., with Julie Eurey L’20 (Photo courtesy of Robin Wintringham L’20)

Elon Law graduates from the Class of 2020, with the generosity of faculty, staff, alumni, students, and families, raised more than $7,300 this fall in support of the law school’s student emergency fund and to memorialize a beloved faculty member who died in November following a lengthy illness.

The gift was presented Friday evening to law school leaders as part of a traditional awards program on the eve of Commencement.

Funds raised through the work of the Class of 2020 Gift Committee will enhance the Elon Law Student Emergency Fund, which was established two years ago by the Class of 2018 and supported by the Class of 2019 as a resource for Elon Law students facing a one-time, extraordinary financial crisis.

A portion of the class gift will also fund the creation of a visible memorial to honor Dean Emeritus and Professor George R. Johnson, Jr., a founding faculty member at Elon Law and mentor to hundreds of students. Details have not been finalized.

Efforts by the Class of 2020 Gift Committee were enhanced by an anonymous donor who pledged a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $3,000. The Class of 2020 Gift Committee was led by Ryan Allshouse, Hayleigh Carroll, Anissa Cottrell, Sarah Ensley and Robin Wintringham.

“We will all be better lawyers in the future thanks to his teachings,” Carroll said. “My classmates and I are proud to make this gift in honor of Dean Johnson and hope to continue to honor his legacy of leadership, service to the community, and dedication to equality for all.”

Wintringham also noted how Johnson embodied the philosophy of servant leadership at Elon Law. “He taught with a command that kept everyone engaged, yet was quick to enjoy a good joke,” she said. “He counted as friends both respected jurists and first year law students. He was never too busy to meet with students and, in fact, concern for students seemed to be his highest calling. Dean Johnson’s passing has left a tear in the fabric of Elon Law.”

The class gift was presented to Elon Law Dean Luke Bierman at the conclusion of Elon Law’s annual awards program to recognize outstanding achievement in each graduating class. Joining the presentation on December 11, 2020, was Dr. Linda Morris, Johnson’s wife.

“On behalf of George and our family, I’d like to thank the class for initiating this gift in honor of George, and I want to thank all of the donors who helped to make it possible,” Morris said. “Your generosity truly touches our hearts deeply and it is a wonderful way to recognize George’s work and his values.”

Contributions to the Class of 2020 Class Gift are still being accepted. Gifts can be made online by visiting the Elon Law giving webpage, selecting the “Other Designation” and filling in “Elon Law Class Gift.” Donors may also note that the gift is in memory of Dean Emeritus Johnson.

“I’m truly honored to be a part of the Elon Law Class of 2020,” Ensley said. “Despite all of the hardships we have endured, we chose to honor the law school and Dean Johnson’s legacy in such an inspirational way.”