As the Cornell Law School class of 1964 approaches its fifty-fifth reunion, to be celebrated in June 2019, one of its members has big plans. Philip Eisenberg ’64 and his wife, Betsy Sevin Eisenberg, have made a major gift that will open doors for future law students and all those whom those students will someday serve.
For years, the couple has been building the endowment for the Philip and Betsy Eisenberg Scholarship, awarded annually to a law student, on the basis of academic merit and financial need, with an emphasis on students who have a special interest in land-use and environmental law.
The Eisenbergs’ latest gift will increase this fund to a level sufficient to provide an annual, full-tuition scholarship, with a preference for military veterans.
Says Philip Eisenberg, “My hope is that there will be a body of Cornell-trained lawyers who will be able to pursue career paths for the public good without the burden of debt from their legal education.”
Eisenberg is the founding partner and CEO of Urban American Partners, which he established in 1997 to acquire, renovate, manage, and ultimately sell workforce, multifamily properties. Through Urban American and directly, the Eisenberg family owns and manages more than 14,000 apartment units in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. Urban American has renovated more than two hundred buildings and more than 6,000 apartments in the area over the past two decades.
This is Eisenberg’s second career. After graduating from the Law School, where he served as editor of the Law Review and participated in the Legal Aid Clinic, he cut his teeth as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of New York. From 1968 through 1982, he practiced and was a partner at Javits, Trubin, Sillcocks, Edelman & Knapp, where he worked in real estate and banking law.
In between clerking and private practice, Eisenberg served in the U.S. Army as a captain in the infantry, an experience that inspired him to gear his latest gift toward veterans. “Having served in the armed forces, as did our sons James and Josh, we have come to understand the sacrifices made by those who serve to protect our society and the democracy that we hold dear,” he says. “This is only a small reward for that commitment.”
Through the years, Eisenberg has maintained his ties to the Law School and the university not only through his endowment but also by serving as a seminar speaker for the Cornell University Master’s Degree in Real Estate Program, a member of the Cornell University Council, and a member of the College of Architectural Art and Planning Advisory Council. His three children are all Cornell graduates, as are his two daughters-in-law. His twin sons, James and Josh, also earned graduate degrees at Cornell, with Josh earning a J.D. in 2000 from the Law School and James receiving a Master’s in Real Estate from the School of Hotel Administration in 2002.
“I’m grateful to the Law School for preparing us to make meaningful contributions to our society,” says Eisenberg, “and it is Betsy’s and my conviction that the best way for our family to contribute to that work is to help provide a means for others to obtain equality of opportunity to seek justice for all of us.”
He adds, “We will always be proud alumni of Cornell Law School; thus, how bright it shines will continue to reflect upon us all. The faculty and staff who toil to make the Law School better every single day deserve our support.”