COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The University of South Carolina’s School of Law has been named after a prominent Lowcountry lawyer and alumnus.
The official name, the University of South Carolina Joseph F. Rice School of Law, was announced Friday morning during a ceremony at the school building on the corner of Bull and Senate Streets.
“I hope that it allows the university to bring in the best of the best minds to thrive, to provide some additional diversity,” said Rice.
Rice, who is a trial lawyer and co-founder of the Motley-Rice Law Firm in Mount Pleasant, announced that he will be giving the law school $30 million.
He said that when he applied to the school, he was not accepted and had to take a second chance route to get into the program.
“Back in 1976 when I entered law school, they had a normal admissions process- I didn’t make that. They had a summer admissions process where they picked students who didn’t get in normal and put us through summer school,” he said.
Rice played a key role in resolving some of the nation’s largest civil actions, including some of the most significant resolutions of asbestos liabilities, the $246 billion civil settlement against the tobacco industry, two settlements regarding the BP Oil Spill, and the ongoing national opioid litigation, according to the school.
He now says the University of South Carolina is like family to him. “My wife and I met here 45 years ago, something like that, my daughter graduated here in law school,” he said.
Rice’s donation will establish an endowed student scholarship fund, and at least four new endowed professorships. Money will also be used to create stipends for students completing a children’s law concentration.
“It’s somewhat overwhelming. But I’m just privileged that I’m in a position to do it,” he said.
Rice says he plans to make the $30 million donation by payments over the next four to five years.
“An investment of this magnitude is often described as transformative, but this word does not do justice to the far-reaching impact that Joe Rice’s gift promises for the University of South Carolina,” said USC President Michael Amiridis. “His extraordinary generosity is not only a mark of his ongoing devotion to his alma mater, but it also ensures the Law School’s ascent as home to the highest-quality legal education and establishes a stellar trajectory for USC’s future growth and national repute.”
The law school is the university’s third academic unit to be named for a donor. The Darla Moore School of Business was named for financial investor Darla Moore in 1988, and the Arnold School of Public Health was named in 2002 for business leader Norman J. Arnold.