UT Receives $1 Million Gift From Chattanooga Law Firm

Monday, February 22, 2021

A $1 million gift has been made to the University of Tennessee in the name of the Chattanooga-based law firm of Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers, P.C.  

The College of Law will receive $900,000 to support the Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, the Legal Clinic, the Douglas Blaze Professorship and scholarships for students interested in pursuing legal careers in advocacy, one of the college’s primary areas of concentration.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga political science department will establish a scholarship with the remaining $100,000. 

College of Law Interim Dean Doug Blaze said he hopes the gift will act as a challenge to others to offer additional funds to the university.  

“We are incredibly grateful for our partnership with Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers and the support the firm and its members have given the College of Law over the years,” Dean Blaze said.  “This gift will advance our students’ understanding and appreciation of advocacy within the legal system.”

In recognition of the gift, the College of Law Room 338 will be named the Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers Courtroom. 

The Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers law firm was founded in 1969 by University of the South and College of Law graduate Jerry H. Summers. Attorney Summers is a lifelong resident of Chattanooga. 

Partners at the firm include Jeffrey W. Rufolo, a 1988 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga graduate and 1991 College of Law graduate; and Jimmy F. Rodgers, Jr., a 1991 graduate of the University of Tennessee and 1994 graduate of the College of Law. Rodgers is a lifelong resident of Chattanooga.

Other Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers law firm attorneys are Marya Wegenka Schalk, a 2002 graduate of Vanderbilt University, 2005 graduate of the College of Law and former appellate law clerk in the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals at Knoxville; and Benjamin L. McGowan, a 1994 graduate of the University of the South and a 2001 graduate of Northeastern University College of Law. 

Summers, Rufolo and Rodgers will also provide the funding for a short treatise on preparing a record on appeal which has resulted in landmark decisions in civil and criminal law in Tennessee, and federal court and the United States Supreme Court by lawyers in the firm. 


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