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In Memoriam: Dorothy Shapiro
June 04, 2012
Longtime GW benefactor, who sought to improve lives and protect the environment, died last week.
Dorothy Shapiro, who donated a total of $8.7 million to the George Washington University and established several professorships and fellowships at the university, died May 29. She was 91.
Ms. Shapiro, of Potomac, Md., had overseen the charitable trust of her late husband, Maurice Shapiro, and her late brother-in-law J.B. Shapiro, who both ran Shapiro Inc., a family-owned real estate and development firm. The J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Charitable Trust created endowed chairs in environmental and public interest law at the GW Law School and in media and public affairs at GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs. The trust also funded a professorship of international affairs in the Elliott School of International Affairs.
"The Shapiro Professorship of International Affairs is the most prestigious visiting faculty position at GW's Elliott School of International Affairs,” said Elliott School Dean Michael E. Brown. “Since its creation almost 20 ago, the Shapiro Professorship has brought an array of renowned scholars and policymakers to GW, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff William Crowe and former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. The Shapiro Professorship has enriched the lives of countless GW students and elevated the profile of the university. Everyone at the Elliott School is deeply grateful to Dorothy Shapiro for her generosity and her many contributions to this superb school."
At the Law School, Jonathan Turley holds the J.B. & Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law, and Robert Glicksman holds the J.B. & Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law. Mr. Turley runs the school’s J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Environmental Law Clinic while Lee Paddock, the school’s associate dean for environmental studies, oversees the annual J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Environmental Law Conference.
The Shapiros’ generosity has also funded a public interest fellowship and several congressional fellowships at the Law School as well as various awards for public service. As congressional fellows, students work in the offices of members of Congress or for congressional committees. This year, the public interest fellow is administering a kids mock trial where GW law students teach children about the law.
“Dorothy supported our students, programs and faculty for years. She was a major donor for environmental and legal causes,” said Mr. Turley. “She was a true ray of light – searching for ways to improve the lives of others and protect animals. Like many, I will miss her dearly.”
Ms. Shapiro also created the Dorothy M. and Maurice C. Shapiro Traveling Fellowship Program, which enables students to carry out original intellectual, cultural, artistic or humanistic projects abroad.
Ms. Shapiro was the founder of the Aspen Hill Pet Cemetery in Silver Spring, Md., which she recently donated to the Montgomery County Humane Society. A lover of animals, she buried many of her own pets there.
The Shapiros also supported the Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Montgomery County Humane Society and the Strathmore in Bethesda, Md. The philanthropic couple received numerous awards for their commitment to scholarship, health, heritage and humanity.
“She pretended to be an ordinary little old lady. In fact she was sharp as a tack. She knew exactly what she wanted. And she negotiated until she got it,” said Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, GW president emeritus and a university professor of public service. “She gave GW millions for scholarships, chairs and other good things. Dorothy wanted her money to make Washington and GW better. She insisted that resources earned in D.C. stay in D.C. She was modest, shy and a good friend to the university and to me.”
Ms. Shapiro is preceded in death by her husband, Maurice Shapiro, in 1987.