Scholarship at College of Law Established in Honor of Stuart M. Mamer, ’47

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stuart M. Mamer, ’47, a pillar of the east central Illinois bar and the local Champaign-Urbana community, has been honored with an endowed scholarship in his name at the University of Illinois College of Law. The scholarship was created through a six-figure gift from Jane Hays, ’79, and Dave Downey, ’66, with additional support from the firm of Thomas, Mamer & Haughey LLP.

The Stuart M. Mamer Scholarship Fund recognizes Mamer’s contributions as a lawyer and mentor and will assist deserving students at the College of Law during their three years of legal study. The scholarship was announced by Dean Bruce Smith at a public celebration at the College of Law on February 22, attended by students and faculty, members of the local bench and bar, friends of the honoree, and the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Phyllis Wise.

photo of Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Stuart Mamer, Jane Hays, Dave Downey, Dean Bruce Smith

From left – Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Stuart Mamer, Jane Hays, Dave Downey, Dean Bruce Smith

Mamer, a double Illini (B.A. 1942 and J.D. 1947), is of counsel at Thomas, Mamer, where he specializes in trusts and estates law. He has served as a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and commissioner of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. For 20 years, he taught a course in legal drafting at the College. He has sat on the boards of the Children’s Home and Aid Society and served as president of the United Fund and the McKinley Foundation. He has been a dedicated supporter of the College of Law, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, WILL, and the Department of Athletics.

A native of Champaign, Hays is a 1972 graduate of University High School, a 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois (magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa), and a 1979 graduate of the College of Law (magna cum laude and Order of the Coif). She practiced law at Thomas, Mamer & Haughey from 1979-93 – for the latter ten years as a partner – having been recommended to the firm by Dean John Cribbet, Mamer’s close friend. Currently a managing director of The Downey Group, Inc., Hays has served on the boards of The United Way of Champaign County, The Champaign Public Library, The Carle Foundation, Leadership Illinois, The Champaign County Boys & Girls Club Foundation, and the College of Law’s Deans Advisory Board, which she has led as president. In 2007, she received the Constituent Leadership Award from the University of Illinois Alumni Association for her service to the College of Law.

Downey is a 1963 graduate of the University of Illinois and a 1966 graduate of the College of Law. The founder of The Downey Group, Inc., he is a nationally recognized financial services professional, with particular expertise in sophisticated life and disability insurance solutions. The former president of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, Downey is one of fewer than 20 individuals in the world to have qualified for the “Top of the Table” (the most exclusive recognition for life insurance and financial services professionals) during the entirety of its existence, having also served as international president of that organization. He currently sits on the boards of the University of Illinois Foundation, First Busey Corporation, The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, and the University of Illinois College of Business, having formerly served on the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, and the University of Illinois Athletic Board.


 “As a land-grant University committed to affordability and access, there is no gift more meaningful than that of an endowed scholarship,” said Smith. “As a lawyer, mentor, and public servant, Stu Mamer exemplifies all that is best about the legal profession. On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff of the College of Law, I wish to thank Jane and Dave for their exceptionally visionary and generous gift and to congratulate Stu on a most richly deserved honor.” 

Mamer, Hays, and Downey have all received the College of Law’s Distinguished Alumni Award (in 1984, 2003, and 1984 respectively) – the College’s highest honor.