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law.arizona.edu | Link                                                                                  June 18, 2014

 

This week, the Arizona Law community mourns the passing of our friend, namesake, and celebrated alumnus, James E. Rogers ('62).  We dedicate this week's newsletter to Jim and his remarkable legacy.

 

Jim's diverse career reflected a wealth of interests and passions in law, communications, finance, philanthropy, and education.

   

Raised in Las Vegas during its atomic energy 'boom', Jim was a proud graduate of Las Vegas High School.  He earned his BS degree in accounting ('60) and his law degree ('62) from the University of Arizona. Later, he took a Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of Southern California and briefly served as a teaching fellow at the University of Illinois Law School.

 

He began law practice in Las Vegas in 1964 with Gelfand, Berggreen, Feinberg, and Rogers, formed with his close mentor Leo Gelfand.

 

In 1988, he ceased practicing law to devote 100 percent of his time to the development of television and radio stations. He founded Valley Broadcasting Company in 1971, when the company applied to the Federal Communications Commission for its broadcast license, and served as the company's chief executive officer beginning in 1979 when KVBC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, went on the air.

Broadcasting had always appealed to Jim for its potential to shape civic culture.  Jim also founded Intermountain West Communications, which owns and operates television stations in the western U.S.

 

In 1981, Jim became a Nevada National Bank board member and later founded the Community Bank of Nevada. In those roles, he worked to promote economic and community development and financial accessibility for local industry.

 

In addition to broadcasting and financial services, Jim was deeply invested in advocating for education, particularly at the collegiate level. 

 

In 2005, Jim became Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, a job for which he refused to be compensated, noting that his own education had afforded him both wealth and meaningful work.  He served as Chancellor until 2009, using the position to advocate for better state funding, increased private philanthropy, and -- most of all -- access to affordable, quality education for every student.

 

Jim's accomplishments attracted national acclaim.  In 1998, he was awarded a Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of Arizona.  Jim also held honorary doctorates from Idaho State University, Kentucky Wesleyan, Carroll College, and University of Nevada Las Vegas.  He served on numerous boards for organizations and institutions such as the New York University School of Law, the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, the University of New Mexico School of Law, the University of Southern California School of Law, and the board of the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade in Tucson. 

 

Jim is perhaps best known to alumni of the College of Law for his philanthropy and, indeed, his generosity has been and will continue to be transformative.  

 

Always a loyal Wildcat (and an enthusiastic Wildcat sports fan) Jim became more actively engaged during the time that his son Perry Rogers ('94) was attending law school.  As a result of many visits and conversations with deans, faculty, and students, Jim and his wife, Beverly Rogers, made a record-breaking gift to the college.  At the time it was made, their gift of $115 million to the University of Arizona College of Law was the largest gift to the University of Arizona and the largest gift to any American law school. 

 

In 1998, the law school was renamed the James E. Rogers College of Law.

 

Jim earned a place on Time magazine's (1999) listing of  "The Top 12 Philanthropists," having gifted or pledged more than $275 million to colleges and universities nationwide.

 

Though he had little use for the publicity that such honors produced, Jim liked the idea that philanthropy could be contagious. 

 

He worked with other donors on joint projects including his good friend, George Rountree. Together, they renovated Rountree Hall and supported the 3L class gift program, encouraging students to give back -- both financially and with their time and energy -- as they increased their capacity to do so.

 

In fact, recent generations of our students had a chance to develop rare personal connections with their law school's namesake.  On visits to the college, Jim would lecture to classes,and meet with students in less formal settings. Some of my fondest memories of Jim involve his personal meetings with students, where he would offer pragmatic advice and encouragement.  He frequently remarked that he learned as much as he taught in these conversations.  Jim always wanted to know about our students -- where they came from, what they were interested in, and how they coped with the costs of their education.

 

He was a true friend, and his passing is an enormous loss for all of us.  Here are just two of the many important lessons I learned from Jim:

 

All success involves change, and you must respond quickly. 

There is hardly an industry as dynamic as the communications business. When Jim Rogers started in television, news stories were shot on film, HDTV was a meaningless acronym, and double-digit profits were the rule, not the exception. Jim believed in nimble strategies -- the same type of approach that we've learned is necessary in legal education.

  

Play to win, but don't be afraid to play your own game.  

Jim Rogers liked to win, but he wasn't afraid to win by virtue of the bold move.  When other broadcasters were trying to stem business losses conventionally, Jim acted counterintuitively.  He held fast to his core value that his primary job was not merely to entertain but to inform viewers.   That same spirit holds true at the College.  We train graduates to act brilliantly and with diligence, but we also instill an attitude of service.

 

Jim was a trusted advisor to deans and a powerful voice for the entire law school community, a mentor to countless students, and a lasting presence at the college he loved so much.  Beyond his transformative gifts to the law school and the University of Arizona, he encouraged us to think bigger, to aspire to greatness, and to always remain open to the opportunities that change presents.  His support for education at all levels -- and his leadership in bringing critical issues to public attention -- was a true public service.

 

I think the following words, offered by his close friend and colleague, Dean Emerita Toni Massaro, capture much of what made Jim Rogers so special:

 

"He  believed deeply in the power of ideas and education.  Countless students and academic programs across our nation have soared because of Jim's spectacular generosity and his formidable drive to make the world a better place. Here at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, we not only have lost a remarkable alumnus and donor, but an intellectual partner and dear friend. Jim was a larger than life, one of a kind man who opened many doors for others, and inspired others to do likewise. Our heart goes out to his wife Bev, his children Perry, Suzanne and Kim, and to the whole Rogers family."

-- Toni Massaro, Regents' Professor, Milton O. Riepe Chair in Constitutional Law, and Dean Emerita 

 

 

I join our students, staff, and faculty in feeling fortunate to have known and learned from Jim.  Today, we celebrate his life and spirit.  Tomorrow, we will continue his lifelong passion to make a real impact on the world around us. 

 

Peace,

 

Marc Signature  

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

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