Anonymous donation allows Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law to establish Edward R. Askew Diversity Scholarship 

Nov. 13, 2020  — Thanks to a recent anonymously donated gift, the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law has established a diversity scholarship in the memory of Edward R. Askew, one of only two Black students in the first integrated graduating class at Memphis’ East High School in 1969. 

After graduating from East, Askew’s inspiring path to success continued as he attended Harvard University followed by the completion of medical school and becoming a doctor before his untimely passing in 1979. It’s the hope of the anonymous donor that Dr. Askew’s journey to success will inspire other diverse students to achieve their own dreams with the help of this scholarship, while also honoring his courage and dignity. 

“I never got the chance to tell him how he inspired me, so naming this scholarship for him is my way of honoring him in gratitude,” said the generous donor. 

This diversity-focused scholarship is yet another successful step in the law school’s recent diversity and inclusion-related efforts led by Demetria Frank, assistant professor and director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Notable results of the law school’s diversity investment include being recently named one of the “Best Law Schools in the Country for Diversity” (13th) by preLaw Magazine and being among the top 25 law schools in the country for law degrees awarded to African Americans. 

“The legal profession has a well-known problem regarding a lack of diversity within its ranks,” said Katharine Schaffzin, dean of the School of Law. “Ultimately, we would like the law school and the bar to better reflect the demographics of the community. That’s the direction we’re working toward and gifts like this allow us to offer the opportunity to more diverse students and hopefully reach that goal even sooner.” 

Though Dr. Askew sadly passed away only 10 years after graduating from East High School, his life and persona left an impression on many individuals, our anonymous donor included. 

“He was always so poised and dignified in what must have been a challenging situation,” noted the anonymous donor. “I admired his quiet courage and grace.” 

Thanks to this gift, future diverse law students will have the chance to make the same impression upon the community in the future.