The UCLA School of Law received $1.5 million from the Shapiro Charitable Foundation as part of the latest in a series of gifts under the school’s $100 million endowment campaign.

This particular gift honors the current dean of the school, Michael H. Schill, establishing the endowed chair in his name.

“That’s fairly rare that we will receive a gift to honor someone while they are still dean,” said Laura Parker, associate dean of external affairs for the UCLA School of Law.

Parker said the UCLA School of Law has been extremely impressed by Dean Schill’s level of passion and hard work.

“We really wanted Mike to enjoy the honor while he was still here,” Parker said.

The law school had already surpassed its $35 million goal when the $100 million campaign was publicly launched in April 2008.

The school has since raised close to $60 million.

UCLA School of Law has one of the smallest endowments of the top tier schools, Parker said.

As funding from the state of California has decreased dramatically, private fundraising has become extremely important for the law school.

While the UCLA School of Law”˜s tuition is still below many of its private school competitors, it runs the risk of losing this advantage as its tuition rises, Parker said. She added that some of the endowments to the school are expected to go towards scholarships for law students to help combat the rise in tuition cost.

Endowments made to establish chairs are especially important because it allows the school to recruit and retain first-rate faculty, Parker said.

Ralph and Shirley Shapiro of the Shapiro Charitable Foundation are both UCLA undergraduate alumni, and Ralph Shapiro graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 1958.

“Ralph and Shirley have been extremely loyal and generous donors to so many parts of the campus that it would be hard to even quantify all that they’ve done for the community,” Parker said.

Tracey Christensen, the associate vice chancellor of external affairs said that the Shapiros have had a long relationship with the university, not only having attended UCLA as students, but also volunteering for the school and serving on several boards.

“They remained involved in the institution, and that involvement has lead to an understanding of the campus’ needs and their philanthropy has supported it,” Christensen said.

She added that the donation is appreciated and that it is one of many.

Ralph Shapiro was awarded the 2008 Alumni of the Year for Public and Community Service and also received the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1983. Ralph and Shirley Shapiro have served on several different UCLA boards over the years.

“They don’t just write a check, they do so much more,” Parker said, “They really inspire others to give.”

The school’s $100 million campaign will end in June 2013.

With reports from Theresa Avila, Bruin senior staff.