Public Service Auction Nets $50,000

November 18, 2009

Students and professors “made it work” at the Public Interest Law Association auction Saturday.

The annual event, which featured a “Project Runway” theme, raised about $50,000 after expenses for grants funding students who take public service jobs over the summer.

Professors George Geis and Karen Moran, playing “Runway” stars Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum, led the auction, which raffled off items ranging from a vacation in a Vienna condo to a fire-breathing performance by a first-year law student.

PILA President Susan Edwards said students, faculty and local business contributions to the auction helped make up for smaller contributions from law firms hit hard by the recession.“The auction is our biggest fund-raising event of the year,” said auction director Crystal Shin. “We expect an increase in grant applications both in the fall and spring, so raising more money to fund fellowships is especially crucial this year.”

“There was a lot of generosity in local businesses this year,” Edwards said, noting that 25 percent of the solicited businesses ended up donating items.

Edwards said a perennial favorite, Professor Anne Coughlin’s graduation dinner for eight students and their friends and family members, sold for $2,100.

Other items included an hour of softball coaching with UVA baseball coach Brian O’Connor, a lunch for four with Slate magazine’s Dahlia Lithwick and a poker game with three professors and second-year law student Leo Wolpert, who recently won a World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas.“The staff and faculty donations are among the favorite of the students,” Edwards said. “We really appreciate the generosity of the staff and faculty of the Law School.”

“I felt like the student body was able to come up with creative donations in spite of the economy,” said Shin.

For the first time, the event featured a separate auction for faculty members, which raised $2,500. “Professor [Liz] Magill outbid Professor [Tom] Nachbar for a private tour of the Wildlife Center for $125,” Shin said. “Professor Coughlin bid $100 for a piano lesson.”

Edwards and Shin praised the auctioneers for rolling with the punches when the sound system proved to be uncooperative.

“They kept the crowd engaged,” Edwards said.

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