Boehnings Pay It Forward Through Scholarships

Alumni and longtime William Greenleaf Eliot Society members support talented students at WashU’s School of Law

Christopher, JD ’94, and Julie Boehning, MLA ’94, made their first unrestricted gift to Washington University before the ink was dry on their diplomas. They were eager to give back. In addition, Ms. Boehning worked in advancement for the university while completing her master’s degree and knew that these gifts—which can be used for any purpose—provide a critical source of flexible funding.

Christopher and Julie Boehning have contributed to WashU’s Annual Fund since 1995 and have been members of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society since 1999. (Photo: Erica Miller, Daily Gazette)

The couple eventually focused their support on annual scholarships. It was a perfect fit: Their own families had encouraged higher education but could not afford the tuition. As first-generation college students, both relied on scholarships while earning their bachelor’s degrees in New York. Mr. Boehning received additional scholarships while pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Rochester and attending WashU’s School of Law.

“My father didn’t finish high school, and my mother didn’t attend college,” says Ms. Boehning, a freelance writer and editor and managing director of 3 Curse, a T-shirt company co-founded by the couple’s son, Julian. “From a very young age, I remember my father telling my siblings and me to go to college so that we would have more opportunities than he did.”

The Boehnings found another excellent fit as members of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society, the university’s giving club for donors who make Annual Fund gifts of $1,000 or more. Mr. Boehning, who specializes in regulatory and civil litigation as a partner at the New York City law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, serves on the Eliot Society Membership Committee for the School of Law. In this role, he educates alumni and friends about the accomplishments and trajectory of the school, from which he received a Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 2007.

In 2018, the Boehnings pledged to endow the Boehning Family Scholar in Law scholarship. They continue to simultaneously fund a named annual scholarship at the law school as Patrons of the Eliot Society, which also recognizes them as Life Fellows in honor of their cumulative giving.

“I applaud and admire Chris and Julie’s dedication to providing others with the opportunity to receive a first-class legal education,” says Nancy Staudt, dean of the School of Law and the Howard and Caroline Cayne Distinguished Professor of Law. “They have given back and stepped up in so many ways—as alumni, leaders, and gracious benefactors.”

Mr. Boehning, who serves on the Washington University Law National Council, also generously gives his time to counsel students. He makes a point of responding to emails, phone calls, and LinkedIn messages from those seeking advice about breaking into the job market. He recalls former School of Law Dean Dorsey Ellis Jr. helping him during his own job search.

“I didn’t know lawyers at big firms,” he says. “I didn’t know lawyers, period. Given the assistance I received, I feel like helping current students find their way is my duty.”

Adds Ms. Boehning, “It’s so important to help people achieve their dreams. I think about how people helped me along the way when I was younger, so it’s very gratifying when I can do the same thing for others.”

Supporting Annual Scholarships

For many of our country’s most talented students, a premier college education is financially out of reach. Scholarships open doors of opportunity for these students, helping them become leaders who play a critical role in the betterment of society.

At Washington University, more than half of our undergraduate students—and nearly all of our graduate and professional students—receive some form of financial assistance. During the 2017-18 academic year, the university awarded over $247 million in assistance to all students. The average scholarship amount for undergraduates was nearly $42,000. The need will likely rise in the coming academic year as families cope with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual scholarships help the university bridge the gap between student need and funding available for scholarships through WashU’s endowment, which covered less than 20 percent of need-based undergraduate scholarship support awarded in 2018. Gifts for annual scholarships expand the financial assistance pool by providing resources that can be used immediately to benefit students.

Donors may sponsor named annual scholarships at a variety of levels on a yearly basis or through a multiyear commitment. Scholarships may be designated for any school. The university recognizes these gifts with membership in the William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

Contact us to learn more about supporting exceptional students at Washington University through annual scholarships.