Major gift from alumni couple establishes scholarship program

Scott Kornspan and Susan Fleischner Kornspan stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
By Pamela Edward

Scott Kornspan and Susan Fleischner Kornspan stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Major gift from alumni couple establishes scholarship program

By Pamela Edward
After three decades of devoting their time, talents, and funds to the University of Miami and its students, alumni Scott Kornspan and Susan Fleischner Kornspan are making an even more lasting impact by creating three new categories of endowed scholarships as a permanent legacy at the U.

When Scott Kornspan arrived at the University of Miami as a first-year student in 1982, he plunged into campus life—and fell in love with an institution that was working hard on plans for what he called “a glide path to greatness.” 

Later, as a student at the School of Law, Scott met classmate and fellow New Yorker Susan Fleischner. The two later married and have spent the past 32 years building distinguished legal careers in South Florida. At the same time, recognizing how their educations had transformed their own lives, they have been dedicated to supporting the University of Miami and its students, as donors, volunteers, mentors, and, in Susan’s case, as an adjunct faculty member at the School of Law. 

In 2013, they named the Scott and Susan Fleischner Kornspan Study Lounge, a 24-hour, 7-day academic and gathering space on the first floor of the Shalala Student Center. That gift spoke of their strong desire to provide all students with round the clock, excellent study facilities to help them succeed, the couple shared. 

Now, the Kornspans have cemented their legacy at the University through a major gift of $5 million, which will endow three new scholarship programs for Kornspan Scholars: The Scott and Susan Fleischner Kornspan Opportunity Scholarship, Merit Scholarship, and Law Scholarship. 

The Opportunity Scholarship is designed to help the University attract high-achieving first-generation students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, who might not have an opportunity without financial assistance. With the Merit Scholarship, the Kornspans aim to help the University compete for and matriculate the most accomplished students who have options at other top-tier private institutions. 

The Law Scholarship was crafted to ensure that top first-year law students can continue their studies. As Scott explained, they did not want a “situation where someone arrived at Miami Law with no merit scholarship, did a great job their first year, and now, if they are not given additional financial aid, they could not afford to stay at the U and instead go elsewhere. This category is designed in part to help retain great students with financial need.”

As Susan recounted, it was only through donor-funded financial aid that she was able to return after her first year of law school. “Being a product of the financial aid system, I always felt that when I got accepted to and attended law school and graduated, part of that process included giving back. If my predecessors had not done that, I would not have been able to continue my studies,” she said.

The Kornspans’ gift is part of the University of Miami’s Ever Brighter: The Campaign for Our Next Century. The most ambitious in the University’s history, the $2.5 billion campaign is set to conclude in 2025, when the University will celebrate its centennial. 

“Scott and Susan Kornspan have made a remarkable difference in students’ lives through their many years of support and service to the University of Miami,” President Julio Frenk said. “With this new commitment, that difference will expand exponentially as the students who become Kornspan Scholars go out into the world and multiply the impact of Scott’s and Susan’s philanthropy through their own work and legacies.”

Patricia A. Whitely, senior vice president for student affairs, has worked with the Kornspans for many years and counts them as close friends. “Scott and Susan have a deep and abiding commitment to the U,” Whitely said. “In addition to the many student life programs they have contributed to over the years, they named the very popular Kornspan Study Lounge. Their incredible gift to provide significant scholarship support to our students is truly welcome—generations of University of Miami students will now be able to make an impact thanks to their generosity—and especially meaningful, given their own legacies at the U.” 

In their giving to and involvement with the University, the Kornspans are, in Susan’s words, “motivated by a profound desire to open doors to opportunity and enrich the student experience.” And, as Josh Friedman, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, remarked, “Susan and Scott understand the power of endowed scholarships. Their planned gift will create brighter opportunities for future generations of University of Miami students, in perpetuity.” 

“We are looking to help the University of Miami create the broadest student opportunities, and the best student experience,” Susan said. “Education transforms you in terms of what you learn in the classroom, but the greatest diversity of who is in the classroom learning with you, and with whom you socialize outside of the classroom, is equally transformative. Learning and engaging with students of different perspectives enhances your academic and personal growth and impact.” 

As a School of Law alumna, Susan was inducted into Iron Arrow, the University’s premier honor society. As a law student, she also was inducted into The Order of Barristers, in recognition of her exceptional skill in written and oral advocacy; won the state moot court competition; and was a member of the Moot Court Board, including holding an executive board position and teaching advanced appellate advocacy for two semesters.  

Susan has worked tirelessly with School of Law faculty members, students, and administrators to advance the Moot Court program. Since becoming chair of the Moot Court Alumni Advisory Board, the students consistently achieve success in national moot court competitions and rankings. 

“I always want to fix or improve what’s in front of me, especially if it will help students,” she reflected. “And the Moot Court Board was the program that presented itself to me in this regard at a pivotal juncture in its history. Moot court is important not only because of the legal skills we are teaching students, but it also provides the students with the experience of leadership, the opportunity of running an organization, and the education of collaboration, while building lasting personal and professional relationships.” 

Susan does whatever is needed to help the program and its students achieve sustained excellence, including getting her professional colleagues, judges as well as lawyers, involved as mentors and competition coaches, helping students on their career paths in the legal profession. 

As an undergraduate at the University, Scott was the first two-time student body president and served as a student representative to the Board of Trustees for two years. He was tapped into Iron Arrow as a junior and became Chief (now chair) of the society while at the School of Law.    

“I spent four years of college learning so much—and the things you learn outside the classroom happen in multiple places,” Scott said, alluding to his involvement in many projects that elevated the University’s profile under then President Edward T. “Tad” Foote II.  “Working side by side with President Foote and his team, we significantly improved academics, student life, and campus beautification. It is extremely rewarding knowing that those years had such a profound and meaningful impact on the U and seeing how presidents Shalala and Frenk have succeeded in taking our University so much further,” said Scott.   

That improvement—the “glide path to greatness”—animates the Kornspans’ excitement about the University and its future. “There is a commitment at the University to excellence, in facilities, academics, athletics, the student body, and the student life experience,” Scott said. “The striving for world-class facilities is brilliant and necessary to educate world-class students. The campus is an amazing canvas.” 

Susan echoed Scott’s sentiments and pointed to the continuous improvement she sees in the caliber of the students. “Every year I am just more impressed than before, and that to me is what makes working with students, volunteering and mentoring, so exciting.” She also encouraged current and future ’Canes alumni to engage and stay involved with their alma mater, and, in her words, “pay it back by paying it forward, whether in time or donations.”