Published: Jan. 10, 2012 Updated: Jan. 11,
UCI law school to get First Amendment chairA $1.5 million gift from a Hesperia newspaper publisher will go to establish the position.
IRVINE – UC Irvine’s law school has received a $1.5 million donation to create a faculty position to lead its teaching and research on First Amendment law, the first such endowed chair among the University of California’s five law schools.
The Pryke Chair on First Amendment and Media Law is intended to serve as a national opinion leader in free speech and media law issues, including the role of a free press in preserving democratic society.
The $1.5 million gift, announced Tuesday, is from Raymond Pryke, owner and publisher of the Hesperia-based Valleywide Newspapers chain.
None of the other four UC law schools – Berkeley, Davis, UCLA and Hastings – have an endowed First Amendment chair, said law school spokesman Rex Bossert.
Only about six law schools nationwide have endowed First Amendment chairs, he added, although some universities have a comparable position in their political science department.
UC Irvine’s law school, which will graduate its first class this year, has six other endowed faculty chairs, but they don’t focus on specific areas of law, Bossert said.
UCI’s new position isn’t likely to be filled for at least six months, Bossert said. The donation must first formally be accepted by UC’s president, and then UCI law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky and UCI Provost Michael R. Gottfredson will launch a search.
University officials will look for a law professor who is a respected national authority on First Amendment law; it could either be an internal appointment or an outside hire, Bossert said.
Pryke’s company, Valleywide Newspapers, publishes several papers in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, including the Hesperia Resorter, Apple Valley News, County Legal Reporter, Adelanto Bulletin, the Antelope Valley Journal and the Victorville Post Express.
Pryke’s work in publishing began in 1962 with the Apple Valley Observer, which he launched as a vehicle to promote sales for his real estate business.