UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Law Board of Advisors member Sarah FitzGerald Mika, Washington D.C.-area attorney, and her husband, Andrew J. Mika, have endowed a $25,000 program fund to benefit the law school’s Family Law Center.
The newly created Mika Family Law Clinic Support Fund was established to enhance the Penn State Family Law Clinic in University Park, which gives students the opportunity to represent victims of domestic abuse and other individuals in family law disputes like divorce proceedings or child custody cases. Over the years, Sarah and Andrew Mika have provided generous financial support throughout the Penn State community.
“We’re grateful for this philanthropic effort by Sarah and Andrew Mika, which is truly a meaningful step to funding the Family Law Clinic for future generations of students,” said Vice Admiral (Ret.) James W. Houck, the interim dean of Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs.
Sarah F. Mika, who earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from the Smeal College of Business in 1980, is a long-standing member of the Penn State Law Board of Advisors and senior vice president, general counsel at AARP Services, Inc. Andrew J. Mika is a financial planner.
Sarah Mika said it is critically important for law students to develop skills through direct practical experience and law school clinics offer these opportunities for them, as well as provide legal aid to those who otherwise might not have access to the legal system.
“The Penn State Family Law Center is such a clinic,” she said. “Its focus on family law is significant because family law provides the framework for families in facing difficult and emotional situations to achieve fair and just results. The Penn State Family Law Center and its services are important to the State College community. Andy and I are happy to be able to support it.”
Michele Vollmer, Penn State Law associate dean for clinics and experiential learning, has been helping the Family Law Clinic to collaborate with the eight other law schools in the state to provide targeted legal services to the elderly under a new initiative led by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Board. The nonprofit IOLTA works to increase access to justice by supporting and funding civil legal aid in the state.
“On behalf of all clinical programs at Penn State Law, I would like to thank Sarah and Andrew Mika for creating this fund to support the important work of our Family Law Clinic,” Vollmer said. “Through a collaboration last fall between the Family Law Clinic and the Law, Policy and Engineering Initiative at Penn State Law, I saw the students create a 360 video to prepare their clients for their first courthouse visit and noticed the impact of this work for domestic violence victims. We thank you and the students thank you for making that impact possible.”
Susan Bardo, interim director at the Family Law Clinic, added her appreciation for Sarah and Andrew Mika’s generous gift.
“This endowment will help us continue to provide much-needed support and representation to our Family Law Clinic clients while providing valuable educational experiences to our students,” Bardo said. “We are very grateful.”
This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.