Intel to help create new tech law and policy center at North Carolina HBCU

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North Carolina Central University will receive $1 million each of the next five years from Intel in addition to legal and strategic expertise, faculty training, and summer internships.

Image: iStock/Fizkes

Intel has announced an initiative that will see the company help build a tech law and policy center at North Carolina Central University, a historically Black college based in Durham. Intel will donate $5 million over the next five years to North Carolina Central University’s School of Law and will give the school legal and strategic expertise, faculty training, summer internships, and mentorship programs for faculty and students. Executives will serve as lecturers and will offer networks to students for further opportunities. 

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The company said it’s goal is to “prepare the next generation of corporate attorneys by giving them exposure to corporate law on day one of their law school journey.” The program will also see two first-year students from the law school join Intel’s summer associate program. 

“North Carolina Central University’s School of Law has been a leader in equity and diversity within the legal education community for several decades. Today, we extend our sincere thanks to Intel Corporation for establishing a novel partnership with the university through the creation of the NCCU Tech Law and Policy Center. This partnership makes NCCU the only HBCU and only law school in the country with a Tech Law Center that focuses on technology disparities and social justice,” North Carolina Central University chancellor Johnson O. Akinleye said in a statement.  

“Over the next five years, Intel Corporation’s gift of $5 million will provide students, as well as faculty and staff in the School of Law with innovative opportunities in the classroom and direct connections with executives at the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturer. Most importantly, this collaboration will assist in solving issues of access and producing diverse legal professionals who are equipped to succeed locally, as well as globally.”

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Intel and North Carolina Central University said in releases that the center will seek to educate students about public policies and laws that are discriminatory and uphold “structural and systemic inequities.”

North Carolina Central University is one of the few HBCUs with a law school, and the American Bar Association has data showing that the majority of Black lawyers come from HBCUs, making it critical for them to provide students with the kind of tech expertise that is becoming increasingly necessary. 

Since the global protests last summer over racism, more tech companies have sought to foster closer ties to HBCUs and help support them financially, as they are traditionally underfunded federally and lack the kind of corporate engagement that is typical for most colleges and universities. 

North Carolina Central University said about $400,000 from the first $1 million donation will go toward building the foundation of the center and staff recruitment, while another $500,000 will be spent on an endowed professorship. The remaining $100,000 has been designated for scholarships. 

“As a company and industry, we need to do better to ensure legal and policy jobs are available to all communities because talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. At the beginning of this  year, we began to hold our legal counsel accountable to the Intel Rule, which states we will not retain or use outside law firms in the US that are average or below average on diversity,” said Steven R. Rodgers, Intel’s general counsel. 

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“And now, through this partnership we will hold ourselves accountable for extending the talent pipeline. Our investment in NCCU is only the beginning, and we will continue our efforts to provide more equitable access to tech, legal, and policy careers.”

The company said it was committed to not standing “on the sidelines in the fight against inequality” and that it was establishing “global social equity principles” that meshed with the creation of the tech policy and law center. 

As part of the deal, Rodgers will join the law school’s board of visitors, and two more Intel executives, Intel’s senior vice president Allon Stabinsky and Intel’s leader of social equity policies Rhonda Foxx, will serve as part of the center’s advisory board. 

“A key component of NCCU School of Law’s mission is to educate students who are committed to social justice and racial equity. The pandemic has shown us that there are disparities that adversely impact low-income persons and people of color when it comes to the availability of technology,” said Browne Lewis, dean of the NCCU School of Law. 

“Intel Corporation’s generous gift and the company’s willingness to partner with one of the six HBCU law schools in the country gives me great hope that we can help close the digital divide.”

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