Pitt Law Receives Major Gift, Establishes the Jack and Lovell Olender Professorship of Asylum, Refugee, and Immigration Law


Contact: Sharon Blake, University of Pittsburgh News Services [412-624-4364 (office); 412-277-6926 (cell); blake@pitt.edu]

University of Pittsburgh School of Law Receives Major Gift

Pitt Law establishes the Jack and Lovell Olender Professorship of Asylum, Refugee, and Immigration Law

PITTSBURGH—William M. Carter Jr., dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, has announced a major gift from Pitt Law alumnus Jack H. Olender to establish the Jack and Lovell Olender Professorship of Asylum, Refugee, and Immigration Law.

Olender’s gift will advance the mission of the law school’s Immigration Law Clinic, where students under the supervision of a faculty member represent immigrants seeking asylum, facing removal from the United States, and seeking special protection under the Violence Against Women Act. The resources from this gift will be used to support a new staff attorney or fellow position in order to expand the scope and types of cases and clients that the clinic serves, along with expanded experiential learning opportunities for students, community engagement, and other key initiatives in the fields of asylum, refugee, and immigration law.

“This is an extraordinarily impactful gift from Mr. Olender,” said Carter. “It will enable us to advance the vital work of the Immigration Law Clinic of providing free legal services to underrepresented clients and will further advance our already-strong experiential learning opportunities for our students to learn law by doing it.”

Olender graduated summa cum laude from Pitt with his bachelor’s degree in 1957 and received his JD from the law school in 1960. Along with his late wife, Lovell, Olender founded The Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation, which promotes opportunity and equality for all Americans. A member of Pitt Law’s Board of Visitors, Olender is president of the malpractice law firm Jack H. Olender and Associates, PC. He has served as president of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia; Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.; American Board of Trial Advocates, D.C.; and George Washington American Inn of Court. Olender was the first lawyer in the District of Columbia certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Read Olender’s full biography here.

Lovell R. Olender, a philanthropist and patron of the arts, helped her husband to establish his law practice and became an integral part of the firm’s success. When the Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation was incorporated, she served as secretary and a board member. Among the many honors Olender received are the Advocate of Justice Award from the National Bar Association and the Unsung Hero Award of the Pigskin Club.

The inaugural Jack and Lovell Olender Professor of Asylum, Refugee, and Immigration Law is Sheila I. Vélez Martínez, director of clinical programs and the Immigration Law Clinic. In addition to her clinical teaching and client representation, Vélez Martínez’s scholarly work focuses on migration to and from Puerto Rico, immigrant remittances, Latino and Latina critical legal theory, and legal education. She is a member of the Board of the Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory, Inc. (LatCrit), and an affiliated member of Pitt’s Center for Latin American Studies.