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Advancing Women in the Law

CNYWBA, College of Law Create the Beatrice Krupkin L’76 Endowed Scholarship

Colleen Gibbons L’17, Board Member of the Central New York Women’s Bar Association, stands next to the Class of 1976 composite photo in Dineen Hall. Gibbons spearheaded the establishment of the Beatrice Krupkin L’76 Endowed Scholarship.
Colleen Gibbons L’17, Board Member of the Central New York Women’s Bar Association, stands next to the Class of 1976 composite photo in Dineen Hall. Gibbons spearheaded the establishment of the Beatrice Krupkin L’76 Endowed Scholarship.
As a law student, Colleen Gibbons L’17 was a grateful recipient of a Central New York Women’s Bar Association (CNYWBA) scholarship given in name and memory of College of Law alumna Beatrice Krupkin L’76. “Receiving that award,” Gibbons says, “made me want to be more involved with the women’s bar association.”

Traditionally offered biennially to Upstate New York law students, for many years the Hon. Beatrice Krupkin Scholarship was administered through the Central New York Community Foundation on behalf of CNYWBA.

Receiving the 2017 award did indeed make Gibbons engage with the women’s bar association. Now Deputy Director of the Center for Court Innovation Upstate Office, Gibbons joined the CNYWBA’s Board and currently serves as Board Secretary. One of her goals has been to ensure the permanence of the law school scholarship she received.

“The Community Foundation met with a women's bar association committee to discuss the possibility of endowing the Krupkin Scholarship,” Gibbons explains. “We agreed, and decided that in addition to endowing the fund, we would approach the College of Law about offering it exclusively to Syracuse law students and installing it at the College of Law.”

Creating the CNYWBA Beatrice Krupkin L’76 Endowed Scholarship meant increasing its principal balance. “The additional funds came from CNYWBA members and from our yearly fundraising drive, during which members had the option to give to the endowment,” says Gibbons. The check to fully endow the scholarship was sent to Syracuse University in October 2019.

“Everyone is really excited about the scholarship, especially the fact that we can offer one every year now,” says Gibbons, adding that, like the original grant, the newly endowed scholarship will be given to a law student who exhibits a keen interest in the advancement of women in society and the law.

That criterion is very much in keeping with Krupkin's pioneering legacy.

A resident of Liverpool, NY, Krupkin (1936-1996) was an Administrative Law Judge with the New York State Department of Labor and active in several local organizations, including the Onondaga County Bar Association, National Council of Jewish Women, Planned Parenthood, and American Civil Liberties Union.

Most notably, Krupkin was a co-founder of CNYWBA in 1980—along with fellow alumna and former President of the National Organization of Women, the late Karen DeCrow L’72—and served as the Association's first President.

The creation and early years of CNYWBA were not without controversy, and CNYWBA benefited from strong leadership from Krupkin. According to the association’s published history, “as to be expected, there was some divisiveness within the Women’s Bar. Some thought it was inappropriate and counterproductive to form an organization that segregated female attorneys from their male counterparts.” Nevertheless, under Krupkin, one of the first tasks CNYWBA addressed was gender discrimination in the Onondaga County Bar Association, which in the mid-1970s held board meetings at an all-male social club.

In addition to Krupkin’s legendary status in the Central New York legal community, Gibbons points to a more personal reason to identify with the scholarship’s namesake. “Judge Krupkin went to law school later in life, and as someone who went to law school as an older student, I can relate, and she inspires me. I hope that future Krupkin Endowed Scholarship recipients will take up the baton of female representation in the law.”

CNYWBA’s endowment of the Krupkin scholarship comes in a year that marked the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in the United States, a fitting time in which to honor the Association’s co-founder.

“We've hosted some great events in my time on the Board,” says Gibbons. These include a celebration of the Hon. Rosemary S. Pooler’s 20th anniversary on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and a Women in Law Summit—hosted at Dineen Hall in April 2019—featuring a keynote address by the Hon. Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge of the State of New York. “We are also celebrating the 19th Amendment by sponsoring the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York November 2019 event at the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls.”

“I’m only in my second year on the Board,” Gibbons adds, “but I think CNYWBA is truly making an impact on the profession.”