Richman Center to fund research by legal and business scholars

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Ellen and Richard RichmanReal-estate developer Richard Richman and his wife Ellen have announced that their family’s philanthropic foundation will give Columbia $10 million for a new center to support research at the intersection of law and business.

The Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy will promote interdisciplinary research on topics such as financial regulation, health-care financing, mortgage lending, and economic stimulus. It will be run jointly by Columbia’s law and business schools.

“Complex challenges in public policy need to be informed by the pragmatic perspectives of both business and law,” says Richman ’72LAW, ’73BUS, who chairs the Richman Group, one of the nation’s largest developers of rental property and affordable housing. “Columbia’s intellectual capital in these two disciplines is unparalleled and represents a powerful tool to address today’s problems, as well as to lay the foundation for a well-planned future.”

Columbia’s law and business schools already have deep ties. They offer a joint JD-MBA program and some of their faculty conduct research together. For instance, law professor Edward Morrison and business professors Christopher Mayer and Tomasz Piskorski in 2009 published a series of legislative proposals to prevent home foreclosures, several of which were enacted by Congress.

Mayer, a codirector of the Richman Center, says the center will fund more research of this type. The center will also invite industry leaders to share their ideas with faculty and students on campus and organize academic conferences to help faculty promote their work to policymakers.

“The goal is to create an institutional framework,” says Mayer, “that helps our law and business faculty do policy-relevant work and then get their message out into the world effectively.”

The gift from the Richman Foundation also funds two new professorships. The recipients of these endowed chairs — one at each school — will conduct research in business, law, and public policy, as well as plan conferences and help shape curricula. An additional $3 million for these professorships is being provided by Gerry Lenfest ’58LAW, ’09HON and Arthur J. Samberg ’67BUS.

The Richman Center’s codirectors, in addition to Mayer and Morrison, are business school dean Glenn Hubbard and law school dean David Schizer.

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