Raising rankings and giving back

August 8, 2011

“Whether coming from a situation of great need or from an Ivy League school, students not burdened by debt have great flexibility in deciding the path they want to take, from the purely altruistic to careers that have the potential to impact history," says Mike Carpenter.

Mike Carpenter (BA `74 JD `77), a founding and managing partner of Carpenter Lipps & Leland LLP in Columbus, is widely regarded as one of the country's leading litigators. He came from decidedly humble beginnings, however, in a small West Virginia town; his mother was the first in the family to graduate from high school, while his father left school in the eighth grade to make a living as a glass blower.  

Despite the lack of access his parents had to formal higher education, life-long learning was a priority in the Carpenter household. “Even though they did not get the opportunity, it was always my parents’ dream that I would go to college,” Mike said.

Mike’s hard work early in school paid off when he was admitted as an undergraduate to Ohio State with a full scholarship to study anthropology. “I understood the value of what I had been given, and knew I would repay the favor to others in the future.”

In his senior year, having been named to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, Mike took the LSAT and was contacted shortly thereafter by Ohio State’s College of Law and offered admission—again with full scholarship support.

The lessons Mike learned in college—that hard work yields results and financial support can change lives—stuck with him. In 2005, he and his wife, Jo Ann, established the Michael H. and Jo Ann Carpenter Scholarship Fund at the Moritz College of Law, an endowed scholarship that provides full tuition for all three years to an entering first-year law student with a top LSAT score. Mike and Jo Ann recently committed to adding another two scholarships to the fund. To date, there have been three Carpenter Scholars.

“This scholarship, beyond its motivational and inspirational benefits, gives me the flexibility to pursue my intellectual and professional dreams,” said second Carpenter Scholar Michael Lee Corey. Michaelearned his bachelor’s degree in history, with minors in political science and English, from Duke University in 2005. While at Duke, he won Rolling Stone magazine’s College Journalism Award, was an editor at Towerview News and Features magazine, and was the sports editor of the Duke Chronicle. He has also served as an educational consultant for the Ohio Board of Regents, a government relations consultant for the Children’s Hunger Alliance, and as editor of a public policy website. In the past, he has served on the Ronald McDonald House Young Professionals Board and has volunteered for Komen Race for the Cure Columbus. Following graduation, Michael hopes to pursue a career in education law and policy.

By supporting outstanding students like Michael Lee Corey, Mike would like to see the Moritz College of Law become the top-ranked public college of law in the country. “I am a huge supporter of students who are from humble beginnings,” said Mike, “but my focus here also is on students who have distinguished themselves by performing exceptionally well on the LSAT. That score is a very consistent predictor of future success and one of the top factors that impacts a law school’s ranking.”

Mike points out that while need is not factor in the awarding of the scholarship, financial aid to any student alleviates stress. “Whether coming from a situation of great need or from an Ivy League school, students not burdened by debt have great flexibility in deciding the path they want to take, from the purely altruistic to careers that have the potential to impact history. That too raises the profile of the Moritz College of Law.”

Mike has also included Ohio State in his estate. “No matter what happens to me, I’ll make sure the school has the funding,” he said.

REASONS TO SAY “THANK YOU!”

The But for Ohio State campaign is a $2.5 billion fundraising endeavor that invites those who believe in Ohio State to invest in our students, our faculty, and our potential.

*Gifts through October 31, 2014

“BUT FOR OHIO STATE AND THE EDUCATION I RECEIVED, I NEVER WOULD HAVE STARTED MY BUSINESS.”

—Leslie Wexner ’59