OU Law Receives Gift to Establish Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Endowed Chair in Civil Rights, Race and Justice in Law

September 10, 2020
Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher signs Roll of Attorneys (Image Credit: Collections at the Oklahoma Historical Society).

Contact: Rachel Egli
Director of Events and
Continuing Legal Education
Office: (405) 325-2011

NORMAN, OKLA. – A transformational gift to the University of Oklahoma College of Law will secure an endowed chair position on the college’s faculty, named in honor of civil rights pioneer and OU Law alumna Dr. Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher.

Less than a year ago, in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of Fisher’s law school admission – OU Law launched a grassroots effort to endow a chair in her honor and recruit outstanding faculty in Civil Rights, Race and Justice in the Law. Since its inception in September 2019, almost 80 donors of all different ages, races, and backgrounds have come together to contribute close to $100,000 to the fund.

This month, a gift of $910,000 from an anonymous donor completed the fund, making the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Chair in Civil Rights, Race and Justice in Law a reality. This faculty position will support and empower law students with the tools necessary to engage in meaningful civil rights legal work. To further support this vision, the donor has pledged to match up to $90,000 for continuing donations to the fund. 

Fisher became the first African American student admitted to OU Law in 1949, an accomplishment that had been preceded by three years of legal battle stretching all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Her landmark case laid the groundwork for the elimination of segregation in public education nationwide.

“We are so grateful to our generous alumni and to the particular efforts of the OU Black Law Students Association and Professor Melissa Mortazavi for her vision in creating and supporting the fund,” said OU Law Interim Dean Katheleen Guzman. “Without their support, our effort to recruit a national expert in this field would have been delayed given our public health crisis and budgetary constraints. By recognizing Dr. Sipuel Fisher and the meaning of her battle, this endowment recognizes the power that love, conviction and action hold. It could not come at a more opportune time, and will help further OU Law’s mission to provide a well-rounded education and experience for the next generation of lawyers and leaders.”

After law school, Fisher practiced law in Chickasha and later joined the faculty at Langston University. In 1992, she was appointed to the OU Board of Regents. Fisher died in 1995, leaving a legacy impacting not only Oklahoma but the nation.

OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. noted the impact of the gift.

“This exceptional gift to establish an endowed chair in Dr. Fisher’s honor ensures that her legacy will live on for generations,” Harroz said. “As future lawyers, our law students will be obligated to uphold justice and protect the rights of all. Having a leading faculty expert in civil rights law will further instill the importance of this undertaking.”  

For more information or to contribute to the additional $90,000 in matching funds, please visit link.ou.edu/alsfchair.

Thank you for your interest in applying to OU Law

Please select your program of interest to learn more about the application process.

J.D. ProgramM.L.S. ProgramLL.M. ProgramLegal Assistant Education Not sure? Learn more about admissions at OU Law