News & Announcements

C|M|LAW Creates New Leadership Education Program

Made possible thanks to a $750,000 gift from P. Kelly Tompkins


Cleveland attorney and business leader P. Kelly Tompkins has made a $750,000 gift to his alma mater, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, to establish a substantive leadership education program for law students. 

The initiative, which will be named the P. Kelly Tompkins Leadership and Law Program, was created by Tompkins and C|M|LAW Dean Lee Fisher, former Ohio Attorney General and Lt. Governor. It seeks to educate students not only to be great lawyers but also to be great leaders. The current components of the program include: 

  • Dean's Leadership Fellows Scholarship
  • Dean’s Leadership Fellows Program
  • New Curriculum development with a focus on leadership
  • C|M|LAW Leader-in-Residence Program
  • Annual Leader on the Rise Award 
  • Visiting Leader Lecture and Conversations Series   
  • Continuing education programming in leadership

“I would like to thank Kelly Tompkins for this generous donation which will enhance C|M|LAW’s national reputation as a ‘first mover’ and legal education innovator, and provide a model for future leadership initiatives at CSU,” noted Harlan Sands, president of Cleveland State.

“Lawyers often follow a career trajectory that propels them into positions of leadership, to the point that the profession is disproportionally represented,” said Tompkins. “Ironically, there is a lack of leadership training offered by law schools. Through C|M|LAW’s Leadership and Law Program, we will equip students with the strategies and skills necessary to answer the inevitable call to leadership.”

Kelly Tompkins is a 1981 graduate of C|M|LAW. He currently serves as a Cleveland-Marshall Leader-in-Residence and Vice-Chair of the C|M|LAW Board of Visitors. He is also a Senior Advisor at the Cleveland public relations firm Dix & Eaton. He is a past recipient of the Cleveland State University George B. Davis Service Award and Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year and delivered the commencement address for the 2005 graduating class of Cleveland-Marshall. He was an inaugural inductee into the C|M|LAW Hall of Fame in 2017. 

His impressive legal and corporate career has included numerous public company roles, most recently as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at Cleveland Cliffs where he previously served as its Chief Financial Officer and Chief Legal Officer. Prior to joining Cliffs, Kelly spent 15 years with RPM International, including service as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer and Chief Legal Officer. Tompkins also served as President of the Cleveland Bar Association from 2005-2006.  

In addition, the school is actively exploring hosting a national conference focused on leadership training for law students and lawyers. 

“Kelly’s generous gift will help to ensure the new C|M|LAW Leadership and Law program can be sustainable for the future,” added Cleveland-Marshall Dean Lee Fisher. “C|M|LAW has produced a remarkable number of leaders in law, public service, business and the judiciary – leadership is in our school’s DNA. Support from engaged alumni leaders like Kelly ensures that our graduates will be better prepared to lead in the near future and for generations to come.”