Public Interest Fellowship Frees Students to Choose Career Path

Barbara J. Fried (née Vogelfanger), ’57, AB’54, has created the Mark and Barbara Fried Fund for Public Interest in the Law School. Her gift endows a one-year public interest fellowship for a Law School graduate and provides support for a second such fellowship. It is part of a larger gift to the University from Mrs. Fried, through which the College also receives funding that will be used to support internships, programming, and staffing to promote public interest careers.

Mrs. Fried’s husband, Mark Fried, ’56, passed away in 2010. They met while he was a student at the Law School and she was an undergraduate in the College, and they married shortly after she graduated. They practiced law together for twenty years before they created the Virginia-based real estate business Fried Companies.

One reason for her gift, Mrs. Fried says, is that career decisions today are not what they once were: “In my day, things were pretty much mapped out and you followed the prescribed plan, but today’s young people are much more flexible in their decisions about life and work, and perhaps more determined to find meaning, direction, and purpose as quickly as possible. Debt can interfere with freely choosing a path, so these fellowships let Law School graduates try out public interest work, to see whether they find a real vocation there. I’m confident that many will, and our society will be better for it.”

Together, Mr. and Mrs. Fried served the public interest in many ways. They cofounded Innisfree Village, a residential community for developmentally disabled adults; created a therapeutic horseback riding program for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities; organized a coalition of Virginia dentists to serve uninsured patients; and helped start a scholarship program for foster children who attend community college. They served under both Democratic  and Republican governors to make housing more affordable for all Virginians and held leadership positions in dozens of local charitable organizations throughout the state.

Mrs. Fried currently chairs the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, serves on the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia, is emeritus chair of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, and is an emeritus trustee of the George Mason University Foundation. Mr. Fried served as a director or trustee or organizations that included the George Mason University Foundation and the Virginia Community College Foundation.

“Barbara and Mark Fried epitomize what is great about the University of Chicago Law School,” says Dean Michael Schill. “They took their educations and became great entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Barbara’s dedication to the world of public affairs is inspiring. I am so pleased that she has taken a leadership role in supporting our efforts to train lawyers who will take on some of the world’s greatest problems and challenges.”

Both Mr. and Mrs. Fried served on the Law School’s Visiting Committee. In 2007, they endowed the Mark and Barbara Fried Professorship at the Law School, which has been held by Emily Buss since its inception. At the time that gift was made, Mr. Fried said, “We wanted to support the work of a faculty member dealing with important social issues, and Professor Buss fits that description.”

“The Law School—and for me, the College, too—opened many opportunities for Mark and me, and enriched the quality of our lives in so many ways,” Mrs. Fried says. “We have been happy to give back; it would be ungrateful not to. Now that our five grandchildren are in various stages of their own educations, I only hope that they will be as fortunate as Mark and I were. And if they are also lucky enough, as we were, to meet the person they want to spend their lives with, that will be a wonderful bonus.”