Tracy Schaefer Calder ’84 financed her law school education with loans and summer jobs. Although she worried about her rising debt burden and ability to repay it, the low cost of tuition at the time – even for an out-of-state student like her – enabled Calder to easily pay her loans within the first few years after graduating. By then she had already recognized the dividends of her UNC degree and Carolina Law ties.
Law school connections helped Calder throughout her career. First in private practice in New York City and later when she transitioned to an in-house role in financial services, connections she made with Carolina Law alumni and classmates were essential nodes in her growing professional network. Over the years, she has given back to Carolina Law by establishing a fund that will soon cover a full scholarship for an in-state student. Calder, of Charlotte, retired this spring as managing director and chief risk officer at LPL Financial.
“As a first-generation college graduate who grew up on Long Island, my path to Carolina Law was more serendipitous than for many of my classmates, but I regard it as one of the best decisions I ever made. It has had a tremendous impact on my life.”
Calder began giving to Carolina Law soon after graduating. She and her husband, Joe, increased their support steadily over the years but as their own children approached college, they realized the degree to which the cost of a legal education had skyrocketed during her career.
“That makes it harder for people to enter the legal profession and pursue their dream. We wanted to do more, and began thinking about setting up a scholarship fund that would pay out a small amount each year, and benefit many students over a long period of time,” she says. “As I neared retirement, we decided we could make the greatest
impact if we were able to give a student full tuition assistance each year. So that’s the goal we set.”
The thank you notes she has received from scholarship recipients over the years paint a picture of a family that has indeed made an impact on those students. For some, these scholarships have enabled them to pursue a public-interest summer clerkship; for others it is just one of several levers to reduce the financial burden of law school. “When you see the tangible impact the money has on students, it really makes you feel like this is worth doing,” she says.
The scholarship Calder established is part of the Chancellors Scholars program of funds that provide additional opportunities to students.
Philanthropy isn’t the only way Calder has remained connected to Carolina Law. She serves on the UNC Law Foundation Board of Directors and is an adviser to UNC’s Center for Banking and Finance. Together with Professor Lissa Broome, she was a founding chair of the UNC Compliance Boot Camp, a bi-annual training program in Charlotte for law students and mid-level legal and compliance professionals. And in the fall, she’ll teach a course on financial services compliance as an adjunct professor.
Through involvement with the Law Foundation, Calder has learned that “Our percentage of giving is significantly lower than at other well-respected public law schools, which has a direct impact on the availability of scholarship funds. We know that we lose top students each year to peer law schools who are better able to meet students’
financial needs,” she says.
That reinforces her commitment to financial support.
“I encourage alumni to look at the great things UNC has done for North Carolina, but more importantly, the impact Carolina Law has had on our own lives and careers. For me, this is just giving back.”
— Jessica Clarke