Professor James Holbrook to receive Utah Philanthropy Day Heart and Hands Award

Nov 09, 2023 | Faculty

by Angela Turnbow

James Holbrook, a bald, older white man wearing glasses, a light-blue button-up shirt, and a navy blazerUtah Law is pleased to announce that Professor James Holbrook will receive the Utah Philanthropy Day Heart and Hands Award on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at a special luncheon held downtown for Utah Philanthropy Day. The award recognizes his ongoing support and mentorship for the University of Utah’s Veteran Support Center (VSC).

Holbrook’s interest in veteran support services stems from his own personal experience.

“I fought in combat in Vietnam in 1969, which was a life-changing experience. When I was a law student at the College of Law in the early 1970s, there were 10 or so Vietnam vets in my class but we never talked about our service because the war was so unpopular,” Holbrook says. “When I became a full-time member of the law faculty in 2002, I began to follow the wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq. When veterans of those wars became law students here, I reached out to welcome them home.”

Holbrook has been actively involved with the university’s VSC since its inception. He served on the search committee for the first director and since then mentored its subsequent directors.

“He played a crucial part in the Center’s inception, providing the foundational support needed to assist our military-connected students and their families,” says Jon Bernal, Champion League Advancement Officer for Development at the University of Utah. “Over the years, he has continued to serve as a mentor to the Center’s directors, guiding them with his wisdom and experience.”

In addition, Holbrook, who is a trustee of the Wagner Foundation, has directed grants each year to the VSC. In 2013, the Wagner Foundation made a large grant allowing the VSC to move from its small basement room location in the Union Building to its present suite on the fourth floor.

In March 2023, the university’s VSC received the prestigious 2023-2024 Military Friendly School recognition by G.I. Jobs Magazine and, placing the University of Utah among nine Tier 1 research institutions, achieving gold status.

“It is important to note that this remarkable accomplishment would not have been possible without Jim’s continued support and mentorship for the VSC,” Bernal says. “His generosity and mentorship have not only transformed the lives of our military-connected students and their families but have also elevated the University of Utah’s standing as a military-friendly institution.”

The university’s VSC continues to grow and will open a satellite location at the College of Law. Utah Law will celebrate its grand opening on Monday, Nov. 13, from 10-11:30 a.m. on Level 6 (Room 6623). To attend the event, please RSVP here or email

“There are over a thousand student veterans at the University, and the VSC is committed to their well-being and that of their families,” Holbrook says. “I am proud to stand with all our student veterans who have served our nation.”