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BREAKING: Maurer donates $35M to IU law

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Indianapolis attorney and businessman Michael Maurer is giving $35 million to the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, which has been renamed in his honor.

The gift, the largest in the law school's history to come from a single donor, will fund an undetermined number of scholarships. Because the donation comes during IU's $1 billion Matching the Promise fundraising campaign, the university will match investment income from the gift in perpetuity.

"I have always thought I had a duty to give back," said Maurer, who graduated from the law school in 1967. He said he received a small academic scholarship in his second year and went on to a 20-year career practicing "any kind of law that had to do with numbers." Maurer, 65, founded the Carmel law firm Maurer Rifkin & Hill PC but no longer practices.

Starting in the 1970s, Maurer and his business partner Robert Schloss built cable television systems in Indiana and Michigan. The partners later bought three local radio stations, which they sold in 2004 to Entercom Communications Corp. for $73.5 million.

Maurer and Schloss are partners in IBJ Corp., owner and publisher of Indianapolis Business Journal, Court and Commercial Record, and Indiana Lawyer. Maurer is chairman of The National Bank of Indianapolis, which he co-founded in 1993.

Law school served him well in business ventures, Maurer said. "Examining issues, evaluating positions - these are good things to learn if you're going into business."

Maurer has a long history of supporting the law school. He chaired its first capital campaign in the 1990s. About 10 years ago, he donated $1 million to support a professorship.

Maurer said he wanted to make a more meaningful gift during the capital campaign, which ends June 30, 2010, and IU offered him the chance to name the law school. Noting that he entered IU law with one of the lowest undergraduate grade-point averages in the class, Maurer said, "The irony of it kind of tickled me."

The new name, the Michael Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, is effective today.

Maurer is one of several central Indiana business leaders who have given huge sums to IU in recent years. In 1997, longtime Steak n Shake Chairman E.W. Kelley gave $23 million to the business school, which was renamed in his honor.

In November 2006, shopping mall developer Melvin Simon and his wife, Bren, gave $50 million to the IU Foundation for the Simon Cancer Center at IUPUI.

Maurer will make his donation over time, with an undisclosed portion coming from his estate after his death.

"This exceptional gift builds upon the law school's foundation of excellence," University President Michael McRobbie said in a statement. "It will enable Indiana law to continue to attract top students and to propel them into the legal profession with outstanding preparation for a broad array of professional options."

U.S. News and World Report's latest ranking of law schools places IU 36th in the nation.

Maurer's gift brings the law school's fundraising during the capital campaign to $83 million. Last December, Lilly Endowment donated $25 million for faculty recruitment. IU will match income from that gift, as well.

University spokesman Larry MacIntrye said criteria for the Michael and Janie Maurer Scholarship, named for Maurer and his wife, are still undecided.

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