Mary A. Dempsey, the first woman to chair the DePaul University Board of Trustees and a 1982 DePaul College of Law graduate, and her husband, noted trial attorney Philip H. Corboy Sr., have made the single largest gift in the history of the DePaul University College of Law by creating the Mary Dempsey and Philip Corboy Endowed Scholarship. The seven figure endowment, the total amount of which is undisclosed at the request of the benefactors, was announced Oct. 17 at a law alumni dinner attended by 250 DePaul law graduates and guests.
“Scholarships are absolutely essential to attracting talented and diverse students,” said Warren E. Wolfson, interim dean of the College of Law. “Gifts such as this enable the College of Law to attract and retain the most talented students without regard to their financial circumstance so that economic status does not become a barrier to economic and professional progress.”
Dempsey says that if it had not been for the financial support she received while attending law school she may never have successfully concluded her studies to become an attorney. Through this scholarship, Dempsey, who is commissioner of the Chicago Public Library, and her husband will assist law students who also may find themselves in need of a financial boost to pursue a career in law.
“Nobody is self-made in this life,” said Dempsey. “DePaul gave me financial support when I needed it. Phil and I are very pleased that Dean Wolfson and his successors will be able to ensure that talented students with financial need are able to attend DePaul College of Law with assistance from the scholarship.”
The Mary Dempsey and Philip Corboy Endowed Scholarship will be awarded annually beginning in the fall of 2010. When fully funded, it will provide partial scholarships to several students each year. Recipients will be chosen from DePaul law students in good standing who demonstrate a financial need. Dempsey and Corboy hope that their gift will give scholarship awardees monetary support while encouraging them to make a difference in the legal profession. Both Dempsey and Corboy have been widely recognized for their contributions to the legal profession as well as their public and community service.
Dempsey attended law school full-time while working as a legal assistant for the Chicago law firm of Kirkland & Ellis. After earning her law degree she went to work for the Chicago law firm of Reuben & Proctor, where she developed an interest in health law. From there she served as in-house legal counsel at Michael Reese Hospital, and later she taught health care law courses at DePaul and was of counsel at Sidley & Austin. In 1994, Dempsey was appointed commissioner of Chicago’s public library system. Under her leadership, service at the system’s three largest locations has been substantially expanded and 43 full-service branch libraries have been constructed or renovated.
Corboy Sr., whose son and law partner, Philip Harnett Corboy Jr., graduated from DePaul’s law school in 1977, also depended on financial support to complete his education. The son and grandson of policemen, Corboy was the first in his family to attend college and law school, with financial assistance from the GI Bill of Rights. A graduate of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Corboy is founder and name partner of the 21-lawyer Chicago firm of Corboy & Demetrio. He has practiced personal injury trial law for more than 50 years and has received numerous awards for his legal and community service work. “My son Philip and my wife Mary received outstanding educations at DePaul College of Law,” said Corboy, Sr. “Mary and I are privileged to be able to extend that opportunity to future lawyers.”
Dempsey and Corboy met while both were speaking to professionals grappling with issues involving privacy and medical records, and independently researching the legal and medical implications of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They were married in 1992. And, while both have attained enormous success in their individual careers, neither has forgotten how important it is to give back. The couple also recently presented Loyola University Chicago Law School with a large gift.
“Mary Dempsey and Philip Corboy have demonstrated an extraordinary drive throughout their remarkable careers to make the world a better place,” said The Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul. “This generous commitment is just the most recent example of their wonderful civic spirit, and I am deeply grateful for this gift, which will benefit future generations of students who also aspire to make a difference.”
Established in 1912, the DePaul University College of Law enrolled 1,078 students for the fall 2009-10 academic year. It offers specialty programs in business law, criminal law, child and family law, health law, intellectual property and information technology law, international comparative law and public interest law. It also offers LL.M. degrees in health law, international law, intellectual property and taxation. ###
Note to Editors—If you would like to arrange an interview with Mary Dempsey, please contact Valerie Phillips at 312/362-5039 or 312/330-3155.