Egged on by unlikely jokester Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, a well-endowed Harvard Law School alumnus recently made a $100,000 donation to his alma mater and suggested the school name a newly-constructed bathroom after him.
This week, the magnanimous donor was delighted to see Harvard Law unveil the "Falik Men's Room" in the newly constructed Wasserstein Hall, Above the Law reports.
Berkeley Law Prof. William Falik (yes, it's pronounced "phallic") told Above the Law the bathroom idea stemmed from a playful exchange he had with Justice Kagan, a former dean of Harvard Law School.
Falik met with Kagan several times to discuss an educational donation he planned to make in honor of his father's 100th birthday and eventually decided on donating $100,000 to Harvard Law School to establish a public interest fellowship.
As with most large-scale donations, Falik knew he would likely be given the right to name something at the school after his father, but realized that "with a name like 'Falik,' there are limited naming opportunities."
Luckily he had one successful naming under his belt already, the "Falik Gentlemen's Lounge" at Berkeley Repertory's Roda Theater, to which he'd made a previous donation.
Kagan encouraged Falik to reprise the gesture by lending his name to a Harvard bathroom.
"Dean Kagan, who has a great sense of humor, liked the idea, but for reasons that I cannot articulate, the Falik Gentleman's Lounge moniker did not get through the chain of command at HLS," Falik told Above the Law editor Elie Mystal in an e-mail. "So alas, it is now the Falik Men's Room."
Steven Oliveira, the law school's dean of development and alumni relations, said they were happy to follow Falik's naming suggestion.
"We thought it was kind of tongue in-cheek and we were willing to do it," Oliveira told Inside Higher Ed.
Falik said he knows his father, who passed away at age 102 before the Falik Men's Room was unveiled, would have loved to see his name on its walls.
"Having lived with the last name Falik for 102 years, he got a great kick out of using the name in connection with men's rooms and gentlemen's lounges," Falik told the Daily Californian.
In establishing the Falik Men's Room, Harvard Law School demonstrated they have a better sense of humor than many other schools faced with similar bathroom naming proposals, according to Inside Higher Ed.
Venture capitalist Brad Feld was shocked when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology refused his offer to endow a bathroom on grounds it was inappropriate.
But Feld met no such opposition from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which gladly put Feld's name on a bathroom in the science building following a $25,000 donation.
"It wasn't something where we sat down and said, 'Gee, let's provide naming opportunities for bathrooms,' John Bennett, director of the university's Alliance for Technology, Learning & Society, told USA Today. "But I'm not the least bit embarrassed if that's what it takes to support programs."
Other schools are following UC Boulder's lead. Dixie State College of Utah recently offered to plaster donors' names on individual bathroom stalls in its musical theater in exchange for a $2,000 donation, according to USA Today.