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$1 Million Planned Gift Celebrates Life of Nancy Jean Fulop Short '71

By Rachel Phipps '07

Nancy Jean Fulop Short
Nancy Jean Fulop in late-April/early-May 1978

Bill Short started dating a young law professor named Nancy Jean Fulop '71 in the summer of 1975. "Besides securities law, Nancy loved art and fashion. She was intelligent, more intelligent than me," he says.

Nancy was teaching corporations, securities regulation, and corporate finance courses at Rutgers Law School. Bill was working full-time for the Philadelphia Electric Company while attending the University of Pennsylvania as a graduate engineering student.

"Nancy often told the story that she decided to attend law school on a whim, calling herself a 'walk-in' to The University of Toledo College of Law," says Bill.

Nancy majored in English literature and minored in art as an undergraduate student, and she was working as a high school English and art teacher when she decided to apply to law school in the summer of 1968. At the College of Law, where she attended on full scholarship and graduated first in her class, she quickly developed a passion for the law, and securities law, in particular. Her professors, seeing her aptitude and intellect, encouraged her to pursue an LLM at Yale Law School, where she applied and attended on full scholarship. The Rutgers teaching position was her first job after completing the Yale LLM program.

"Your life and career take turns and twists. You develop, seize opportunities, and you gather knowledge," says Bill. "But only after some time are you able to look back and connect the dots and recognize just how far you have come and how you ended up where you are. Most important, you realize how 'small breaks' materially influence your life."

After completing his graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, Bill took a leave of absence from Philadelphia Electric and moved to New York to pursue a graduate program in business administration at New York University. Bill's roommate at NYU was a former paralegal at the then up-and-coming Manhattan law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. When his roommate shared a New York magazine article about Skadden with him, Bill passed it along to Nancy. She submitted a resume, was hired by Skadden’s corporate securities law practice, and joined Bill in New York City. The couple was married two years later. They moved into an apartment overlooking Lincoln Center and Central Park and welcomed a son, Bradford.

Nancy practiced securities law for 10 years before entering the world of legal publishing, where she would spend the remainder of her career. She served as the manager of securities publications at Matthew Bender and then as an editor at the legal and financial printer Bowne & Co. Inc. As a securities law expert with more than 30 years of experience, Nancy found legal publishing challenging and fulfilling.

"She really enjoyed rubbing elbows with some of the best and brightest minds in securities law," says Bill.

After Nancy retired from the publishing industry in the mid-2000s, only three years passed before she "walked into" another institution, the New York School of Interior Design. She planned to combine her dual interests in art and interior design with her legal expertise, advising young designers in New York’s competitive market. Nancy had recently been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and she underwent surgery before beginning classes at NYSID.

After a six-year remission, Nancy passed away in 2014. Bill was determined to celebrate her life with a gift that would help others; however, it took time for his plan to fully form—for him to connect the dots.

As a young woman growing up in Toledo, Nancy attended St. Ursula Academy and Mary Manse College, a Catholic women's college that has since shuttered. She received full scholarships at both schools and was valedictorian of her high school and first in her class at college. Her legal education at Toledo Law and Yale was also on full scholarship.

"My wife was shaped by the four institutions she attended—all of them on full scholarship. I was fortunate that my parents paid for my private boarding school and most of college," says Bill. "I left my college and graduate schools debt-free, but I am struck by the role that scholarships that Nancy received played in her life and career."

Now, when he visits Nancy's and his alma maters, Bill asks students how they finance their educations. He is often dismayed to learn of the significant financial burdens so many have to assume. Bill has committed to making four planned $1 million gifts in Nancy’s memory—one each to the College of Law, St. Ursula Academy, the Toledo Museum of Art (because Mary Manse College no longer exists), and Yale Law School. The gifts will be used to cover the full cost of tuition for bright students like Nancy. He intends for each gift plus its earnings to be spent completely, over a generation, for merit-based scholarships. His gift will fund three scholarships annually at the College of Law.

"It is wonderful that we are able to honor Nancy's legacy in this way. She was something of a legend when she was here, authoring a first-year legal writing memorandum that was kept on reserve in the library for years as a model for the students who came after her," says Dean D. Benjamin Barros.

"As I've had an opportunity to get to know Bill over the last few years, I've heard many stories about Nancy and her career. Being able to attend the College of Law on a full scholarship gave Nancy freedom to consider different paths early in her career. We are grateful to Bill for this gift, which will give this same freedom to future outstanding College of Law students."

This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 Transcript alumni magazine

Last Updated: 2/15/19