Recently retired Hennepin County District Court Judge Mark Wernick and his wife Nancy Entwistle have made leadership gifts to establish the Judge Mark S. Wernick and Nancy Entwistle Public Interest Scholars Assistance programs at the University of Minnesota Law School and William Mitchell College of Law.
The funds, created through estate gifts, will provide scholarships to William Mitchell and University of Minnesota Law School students who are interested in public service careers. The funds also will help create volunteer, mentoring, and summer fellowships opportunities for students, and help graduates who pursue careers in public service repay their student loans.
Both Wernick and Entwistle have devoted much of their lives to improving society through public service work, volunteerism, and philanthropic support.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1972, Wernick earned his J.D. degree from Drake University Law School and then began his legal career as an assistant Hennepin County public defender. He later went into private practice before being appointed to a seat on the Hennepin County District Court bench in 2002.
Throughout his career, Wernick has volunteered as a board member for non-profit organizations such as Sabathani Community Center and the Legal Rights Center.
“Both Nancy and I are pleased to be able to make these commitments to the two law schools,” said Judge Wernick. “Unlike many students facing high debt loads today, I was able to go into public service work immediately after graduating from law school. We wanted to help students make this same choice.”
Entwistle graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a B.A. degree in art and earned a second B.A. degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She has worked as a graphic designer for the Star Tribune for more than 30 years and operates her own design firm. She is a long-time supporter of organizations that promote the humane treatment of animals.
The couple hopes their gifts to the University of Minnesota Law School and William Mitchell College of Law allow law students who care deeply about social justice issues to gain valuable real-world experience while in school and pursue careers in public service without being saddled by huge debt.
“At William Mitchell, public service isn’t a requirement—it’s part of our culture,” said William Mitchell’s President and Dean Eric S. Janus. “Each year, a significant number of students come to Mitchell with the intention of going into public service. Thanks to the generosity of Judge Wernick and Nancy Entwistle, these students will be better prepared to follow their dreams while in law school and after they graduate.”
“Today’s students value public interest law and many aspire to apply their legal training in the service of society,” said David Wippman, the Dean of the University of Minnesota Law School. “The impact of these gifts will be seen over many generations. Judge Wernick and Nancy Entwistle have shown great insight and largesse in helping to remove financial barriers for new lawyers seeking to help others.
The gift is the latest in a string of leadership gifts to William Mitchell and the University of Minnesota Law School, both of which are nearing the close of their respective fund-raising campaigns. William Mitchell publicly launched in 2013 the “If Not for Mitchell” Campaign, which is now 94 percent to its $25 million goal. The University of Minnesota Law School launched its Generations Campaign in 2010, and is 94 percent of the way towards its $70 million goal.