February 22, 2022 — It has been more than four decades since James J. Gillotti graduated from Dickinson Law in 1979, and he continues to consider his classmates among his closest friends. They formed strong bonds during their time in Carlisle, from study sessions running late into the night to unwinding with “Kegs in the Curtilage” each Friday. Today, the Class of 1979 maintains an active group email chain, held Zoom sessions to stay in touch at the height of the pandemic, and gathers frequently outside of the regular five-year class reunions.

“Dickinson Law is not like law schools in big cities, where people attend classes and then get in their cars or hop on trains and become scattered all over the metropolitan area for the rest of the day,” said Gillotti, now a partner at Oliver, Price & Rhodes in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. “Almost all of us lived within walking distance of the school. We liked being together. I think that led to this very tight little community.” 

So when Gillotti decided he wanted to support Penn State Dickinson Law with a gift, it made sense to get his friends involved. He called Kelly Rimmer, director of development and alumni affairs at Dickinson Law, and they began discussing ideas. “I said I did not want my gift to be just a one-off. I wanted it to be part of something bigger,” said Gillotti. “So we tossed around a few ideas, and we came up with the concept of a Class of 1979 Scholarship that all members of the class would be invited to participate in.” 

Before moving forward with outreach to the class, it was necessary to secure $50,000 in gifts and pledges, the minimum required to endow a scholarship. Gillotti immediately called two close friends and classmates, Garry S. Taroli and Michael J. McDonald, to ask them to join the fund. Rimmer reached out to a third friend, Hubert X. Gilroy, a shareholder at Martson Law Offices in Carlisle who serves on the Dickinson Law Leadership Council Advisory Board and coaches the Law School’s National Trial Moot Court Team. 

The three readily agreed to join Gillotti in the effort and collectively committed to gifts, pledges, and bequests that exceeded the $50,000 threshold. 

“The Dickinson Law Class of 1979 has always stayed close with each other and with Penn State Dickinson Law. When Jim Gillotti spearheaded this project, it was a natural ‘yes!’ to come on board,” said Gilroy. “Most of any success I have enjoyed professionally is due directly to my three years in Carlisle at Dickinson Law. The personal lives of my wife, Mary, and myself have been tremendously enriched by the warm friendships we have enjoyed with my Dickinson Law classmates and their families.”

“We have a real fondness for the school and the great education we received. It was an easy sell when Jim said, ‘Let’s get together and make a difference for the school,’” said McDonald, founding partner at McDonald & MacGregor, LLC, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “We agreed happily and enthusiastically.” 

The group approached other friends from the Class of 1979, including R. Joseph Landy, Daniel E.P. Bausher, and Mollie A. McCurdy and Kevin J. McKeon (who are married). All eagerly agreed to help lead the class effort with gifts pledged over a five-year period toward a scholarship that will be awarded only to law students enrolled or planning to enroll at Dickinson Law in Carlisle.

Reaching more people

Gillotti wanted to open the opportunity to contribute to an even wider group. He and other initial donors collaborated with Rimmer on a letter sent to all Class of 1979 members inviting them to participate. 

“Members of the class have reached a station in life where it is very appropriate to direct some resources to philanthropic efforts,” reads the letter. “With that consideration in mind, and with deep appreciation and affection for our Law School, we have decided to be the initial donors to create the Class of 1979 Scholarship at Dickinson Law. Now, we are writing to the entire class to encourage everyone to contribute to this fund.” 

The letter also salutes the contributions and leadership of Dusty Elias Kirk (Class of 1979), Dickinson Law’s volunteer chair in the University’s current fundraising campaign, “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” 

“It is just tremendous what she has done with the campaign. She has really set the example, and we want to follow,” said Gillotti. “I think that when you get into your 60s, philanthropy is a logical subject to consider. We want to be mindful of what we are doing to make the world a better place and specifically to do something good for our school, for which we feel gratitude.” 

Taroli, a partner at Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald, LLP, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, echoed that feeling of gratitude, which led him to contribute. 

“After practicing law for the last 42 years, I look back and even more deeply realize how unique and special the three years at Dickinson Law were — and how wonderful the friendships were and the fact that those friendships continue very strongly until today,” said Taroli. “By participating in this Class of 1979 Scholarship, we are giving many others the opportunity to receive a high-quality legal education in the same unique setting.”

The initial donors appreciate the sense of unity in their class that endures to this day. 

“It is only appropriate for our entire class to step forward to create a Class of 1979 Scholarship that will offer others the opportunity to cultivate the skills and relationships that are created studying law in Carlisle under the Penn State Dickinson Law umbrella,” said Gilroy. 

Gillotti also hopes the Class of 1979 effort sparks other classes to create scholarships. “Maybe what we are doing with our class can serve as a model for other classes to follow,” said Gillotti.

The Class of 1979 Scholarship moves Dickinson Law closer to meeting its goal of raising $16.4 million by June 30, 2022, in “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit