What the Gift Supports

In 2005, Yale Law School received a gift from the estate of Oscar M. Ruebhausen ’37 expected to provide more than $30 million to the School. The gift is one of the largest in the history of American legal education.

The generous gift from Ruebhausen and his wife, Zelia P. Ruebhausen, supports an Oscar M. Ruebhausen Professorship of Law, awarded to Ian Ayres' 86, a leading expert in law and economics. It also supports the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund; the Zelia P. Ruebhausen Student Fund, which supports student organizations; and the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Visiting Fellows program, which brings renowned legal figures to the Law School.

Ruebhausen was a distinguished partner in the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP for almost fifty years and served as its presiding partner between 1972 and 1981. He served as president of the Bar Association of the City of New York, a key adviser to Nelson Rockefeller, general counsel to the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, and chairman of the boards of the Russell Sage and Greenwall Foundations.

In 1978, he was awarded Yale Law School’s Citation of Merit. He passed away in 2004, fourteen years after the death of his wife Zelia, a 1937 graduate of Vassar College who served on the boards of the League of Women Voters, the International House of New York City, and the African American Institute. From 1972 to 1977, she was a member of the twelve-member commission charged with revising the Charter of New York City.

“Yale Law School could not survive without the generosity of its alumni, few of whom were more dedicated to their alma mater than Oscar M. Ruebhausen,” said former dean Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law. “He was the type of lawyer that our students and graduates hope to become. He was a social architect deeply committed to the very best values of the law and the legal profession.”

Through this gift, Koh remarked at the time of the donation, “the Ruebhausens sought to enhance the intellectual vitality, creativity, and analytic rigor of Yale Law School, while emphasizing the role of the legal profession as an advocate for the public interest. This gift will enable us to continue this proud tradition at Yale Law School, and at the same time, help us support the School’s close intellectual and social interactions between faculty, students, and visiting fellows.”