May 27, 2016
McGeorge School of Law has announced receiving a $500,000 gift from Steve Ellyson to support a new Carol Olson Endowed Professorship of International Law. This gift will be matched by the Powell Fund to create a $1 million endowment. Mr. Ellyson made his gift to McGeorge in honor of his late wife, Carol Olson, '83. Ms. Olson recently passed away on Sunday, December 27, 2015.
"We are pleased and honored to carry on Carol Olson's tremendous legacy," said Dean Francis J. Mootz III. "This generous gift will allow her work to live on at McGeorge in perpetuity."
Before attending law school, Ms. Olson earned a B. A. in Political Science with minors in Spanish and Secondary Education (Cum Laude and Departmental Honors) from Washington College; M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from University of Delaware, and a M.Ed. in Special Education from University of Delaware. She started her law degree at McGeorge shortly after her Ph.D. was completed.
"I made the gift to McGeorge in recognition of the fact that during Carol's six years at McGeorge, three as a student and then subsequently three years on faculty, she worked extremely hard but was never happier," said Mr. Ellyson. "Attending law school was something Carol had wanted to do for years. At the age of 31, she achieved that goal, after already receiving numerous advanced degrees. This was possible because McGeorge gave her that opportunity."
Ms. Olson received her J.D. (with Great Distinction) from McGeorge School of Law in 1983, and was inducted into the Order of the Coif. She stayed at McGeorge to serve as an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of Legal Writing, as well as the advisor for the International Law Moot Court and Jessup teams at McGeorge, until 1986.
"During her time as a law student, Carol realized that her love of law could best be served in the academic arena. Because of McGeorge, she was able to realize that dream," said Mr. Ellyson. "Becoming a faculty member at McGeorge fulfilled both Carol's career aspirations and emotional needs. McGeorge made a positive impact on both of our lives as I watched her flourish in that environment."
After she left McGeorge in 1986, she served on the faculty of the University of Akron School of Law as a professor until her retirement in 2012. Mr. Ellyson retired from Youngstown State University in 2011 as a Professor Emeritus of Psychology, and the couple moved to Indian Wells, California. Since 2012, Mr. Ellyson has taught courses at the Palm Desert campus of California State University San Bernardino.
"Carol was my dear friend and I admired her," said McGeorge professor Kojo Yelpaala. "We spent a lot of time discussing many issues and I found her to be exceedingly gifted, generous in spirit and humane. One of the things to admire about Carol is the fact that she was unquestionably law school faculty material from a school not known for producing many law professors. That is how unique and gifted she was. She made McGeorge proud!"
Mr. Ellyson's donation to McGeorge will endow a Professorship of International Law, with an emphasis on international human rights law. "Carol's passion for International human rights issues was reinforced by her sister's untimely death during the "Dirty War" in Argentina in the 1970s," said Mr. Ellyson. "The Olson Endowed Professorship will carry on Carol's legacy and support the education of those who work improving and championing the cause of international human rights for years to come."