COLUMBIA — Charles Wall gave a gift of $1.57 million to the MU School of Law on Thursday morning, though he did not present it himself.
"He's a very humble individual," said Tom Hiles, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations. "He provided the support, but actually, we had to kind of talk him into allowing us to use his name at all on the chair. So we're really privileged to have, and honored to have, his name on the chair."
Law professor Thomas Lambert will be the inaugural Wall Chair in Corporate Law and Governance. The Nancy and Charles Wall Family Foundation, which Charles Wall heads with his sister, provided the funds to establish the chair and to start the professorship immediately.
Charles Wall graduated from the MU School of Law in 1970 and has had a successful career in corporate law, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said.
"It's truly an inspiring and really very humbling experience when you see alums like Chuck who want to give back to the university and share what they have done, their success, with the institution that enabled them to achieve these successes," Deaton said.
MU Law School Dean Gary Myers said Charles Wall also chairs the board of directors of the New York City Opera and is involved with the Aspen Music Festival.
"He has many broad interests, but one of those fundamental interests comes from his background," Myers said. "Chuck Wall is a consummate corporate lawyer."
Deaton said the Walls wanted to build on the law school's existing strengths and called corporate law one of its "major" strengths. Maintaining excellent faculty is part of staying a leader in critical areas, such as corporate law, he said.
"Thom (Lambert) epitomizes the kind of faculty member we try to attract, recruit and retain at the University of Missouri School of Law," Myers said.
Lambert graduated from Wheaton College and the University of Chicago Law School. He has clerked for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, served as a John M. Olin Fellow at Northwestern School of Law and practiced law with the firm of Sidley Austin in Chicago. He is a scholar in the areas of corporate law, anti-trust law and contracts, Myers said.
"But it's not just that he's a great scholar; Thom Lambert is a great teacher," he said. "You can know that when you talk to any of his students about his teaching. ... It's important to recognize the synergy that can exist between creative scholarship, cutting-edge scholarship and great teaching."
Lambert said this is a crucial time to study corporate governance.
"We have seen, occasionally, very widespread crises in corporate governance," Lambert said. "And we really saw that in the first decade of this century."
The early 2000s saw the failures of Enron and WorldCom, and the end of decade saw the financial crisis, he said.
"There could not be a better time to study corporate governance," Lambert said. "We are doing things that we've never done before, and I'm very excited to be able to be a part of this conversation, to explore what works and what doesn't work. This is a very key time for this field."
Lambert said that Charles Wall appreciates the roles of both the teacher and the scholar and that it's clear he wants the Wall Chair to "be a position to integrate scholarship with teaching."
"He's very interested in effective teaching that cannot occur without effective scholarship," Lambert said. "I'm totally on board with that plan."
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