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Leaving a legacy in public policy education

$3 million gift to establish James Palmer Chair in Public Policy and Law

- March 27, 2015

Kim Brooks announcing the James Palmer Chair in Public Policy and Law at the annual Schulich School of Law reception. (Danny Abriel photo)
Kim Brooks announcing the James Palmer Chair in Public Policy and Law at the annual Schulich School of Law reception. (Danny Abriel photo)

During his lifetime, James (Jim) Palmer (LLB’52) was fiercely passionate about public policy and how to make the world a better place — and his commitment to both passions was unwavering.

At the annual Schulich School of Law reception on Thursday, where students, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate excellence in teaching, Dean Kim Brooks announced a $3 million gift from the Palmer Family Foundation to establish the James Palmer Chair in Public Policy and Law. The chair will increase the role for both the Schulich School of Law and Dalhousie more generally in furthering public discourse and engaging in sound public policy research, a true testament to Mr. Palmer’s legacy.  

“It is with great thanks to Jim’s family that his legacy will find a home in the form of a new chair within Dalhousie’s walls, with impact around the world,” said Dean Brooks at the announcement.

“The Palmer Chair will provide intellectual leadership at the law school and will be actively engaged in projects that have an impact in public policy and law locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.”

During the announcement, Dean Brooks spoke fondly of Mr. Palmer and his exemplary commitment to the law school, describing him as, “one of ours.”

Read more on James Palmer's life & commitment to community, education and public policy

Public policy and law

The James Palmer Chair in Public Policy and Law will complement and support work already in progress at the Schulich School of Law. The chairholder, who is expected to be announced in spring of 2016, will contribute to undergraduate and graduate teaching alongside a research agenda and many other initiatives.

The Palmer Chair announcement comes a month after a $2.5 million donation from The MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance to establish a public policy and governance institute in the name of Allan J. MacEachen. Combined, these two initiatives position Dalhousie and the Schulich School of Law as leaders in teaching and research that contributes to public policy development.  

Mr. Palmer’s wife, Barbara Palmer, says the decision to make the gift to the Schulich School of Law was easy because his interest in informed public policy was a constant throughout his life.

“This is what he would have wanted,” said Mrs. Palmer. “He believed that education in the field of public policy would directly enhance the level of discussion and contribute to good governance throughout Canada.”

The Palmer legacy: from west to east  

Among many things, Mr. Palmer was a champion of education. The Palmers' academic philanthropy has enhanced the education of countless students.

The Schulich School of Law is the second law school in Canada to have a Palmer Chair. In 2008, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer established the James S. & Barbara A. Palmer Chair in Law and Public Policy at the University of Calgary. Now with a Palmer Chair at Dalhousie, Mr. Palmer has created a national forum for debate that stretches across Canada, from west to east.

Mr. Palmer left his mark on public life as a mentor to a generation of business and political leaders. With Thursday’s announcement, there is no doubt his contributions will continue to influence and enrich public policy in Canada for years to come.


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