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Melany Newby ’74 Pledges $50,000 Gift Toward New Building


<strong>Prof. Ronna G. Schneider, Melany Newby, Dean Louis D. Bilionis</strong>As an Ohio State University undergraduate student, Melany Newby initially majored in mathematics with intentions of attending medical school. When her advisors told her she could not do it that way, Newby chose the major that would allow her to earn her degree the quickest – French Literature.

Forty years later, the South Central Ohio native is a retired attorney living in South Central Wisconsin.

Newby may be nearly 22 years removed from her days as a Cincinnati resident, but the 1974 College of Law graduate frequently returns to the Queen City due to her affinity for her law school.

“I enjoyed the law school experience,” Newby said.” I have fond memories of my professors and the friends I made, who continue to be incredibly good friends of mine.”

Newby’s most recent trip to Cincinnati came in December, when she attended the annual Dean’s Council dinner at which it was announced that she would be making a gift to the College of Law’s capital campaign.

“I feel very strongly that the law school needs a new building and it needs an infusion of money in order to maintain its reputation and to achieve additional excellence,” Newby said of her generous donation.

Specifically, she has pledged to donate $50,000 for an office in the eventual new building, which will be named for faculty member Ronna Schneider, Professor of Law.

Who is Melany Newby?

Newby decided to pursue law school after graduating a few months early from OSU. Not only did she do better than expected on the LSAT, her interest in law was further piqued while interning at the Ohio Legislature that spring and summer.

After being waitlisted by OSU, Newby happily accepted the opportunity to study at the College of Law, and she began classes in the fall of 1971.

During her 2L year, Newby managed to convince Professor Tom Murphy and the administration to allow her to start work on a master’s degree in higher education administration.

The following summer, Senator Robert Taft, Jr., asked Murphy to recommend a student for a summer internship at the National Labor Relations Board. Murphy asked Newby who, not only accepted, but called it a “wonderful job.”

Newby came back to UC in the fall and completed her final year at the College of Law, before studying for the bar and working for a local title search company in downtown Cincinnati that summer.

“I thought the law school experience was terrific all the way around,” she said.

Newby’s first job came as the assistant city solicitor for the City of Cincinnati. She worked on several “significant lawsuits,” including one involving the Cincinnati Zoo, and an electricity dispute between the Reds and the Bengals, who were then sharing Riverfront Stadium.

But Newby “learned pretty quickly that [she] didn’t like litigation."

After four years at the City Solicitor’s office, she accepted the first-ever in-house legal position at the University of Cincinnati, where she stayed for 11 years.

Newby then went from general counsel at UC to a similar position at the University of Wisconsin in 1989, where she worked until she retired in 2006.

She was hired by then-Wisconsin chancellor Donna Shalala, who later served as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Health and Human Services and is the current president at the University of Miami.

Newby had also been a finalist for the general counsel position at Duke University.

“I thought going to another big public [school] was a much better choice for me than to go to a smaller private [one],” she said.

In her 17-year career in Madison, Newby not only was the Vice Chancellor for Legal and Executive Affairs, but she also ran the university’s trademark licensing office – a program similar to the one she started at UC.

Melany Newby Today

Since retiring from her role as the University of Wisconsin’s chief lawyer, Newby has enjoyed the outdoors – playing golf and skiing in Breckenridge, Col., with her partner of 18 years, Trygye Lonneboth.

He and Newby have lived together on Lake Wisconsin since 1999, about 35 miles north and west of Madison.

Despite being long removed from her days as a UC Law student, Newby said she stays in touch with 18 of her 20-or-so-person section from school, both by email and even in person.

“Every time we’ve had a reunion, I’ve managed to get myself there,” she said.

Newby, the proud aunt of seven nieces and nephews, has further maintained contact with the school by serving on the dean’s advisory board, the Board of Visitors – first with Dean Joe Tomain, and currently with Dean Lou Bilionis.

The former UC and Wisconsin general counsel undoubtedly remains proud of her law school alma mater and was eager to contribute to the present fundraising campaign.

“This is money that’s going to go and be used for something incredibly special,” Newby said, both of her specific donation and those of current and future donors.

Newby’s gift was named for Professor Schneider, with whom she has stayed in touch with after their “paths crossed fairly frequently” while Newby worked in Cincinnati.

“It occurred to me that if I was going to give a big enough gift where I could name an office, I wanted it to be a professor who was there for whom I had some affinity and interaction,” Newby said. “I couldn’t think of anybody better.”

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13