Weinfeld Gala honors innovator Alfred Engelberg ’65

Beneath the vaulted stone arches of the New York Public Library, alumni, faculty, and other members of the NYU Law community met and mingled for the Weinfeld Gala. The annual event honors members of the Weinfeld Program, a donor society that recognizes those who have made exceptional contributions to the Law School, helping to fund student scholarships, the Clinical Program, faculty research, and more.

Al Engelberg
Al Engelberg

After Board of Trustees Chair David Tanner ’84 delivered welcome remarks, Dean Troy McKenzie ’00 and Anthony Welters ’77, chair emeritus of the Board of Trustees, took turns at the podium to introduce Alfred “Al” Engelberg ’65, the recipient of this year’s Weinfeld Award, which honors a distinguished alumnus who has shown extraordinary commitment to the Law School.

Engelberg, who graduated cum laude from NYU Law, spent a long career in intellectual property and patent law, including serving as patent counsel for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. In 1984, he helped negotiate and create provisions in the Hatch-Waxman Act that led to major growth in the availability of generic drugs. In 1985, Engelberg created a venture with a generic drug manufacturer to use Hatch-Waxman to bring pioneering patent challenge litigation against major pharmaceutical companies, opening the way to production of generic versions of drugs for heart disease, depression, muscle spasms, and other medical conditions.

Retiring from litigation to pursue philanthropy in the 1990s, Engelberg created the Engelberg Foundation to fund research in medicine, education, and the arts. One of the foundation’s first grants established the Law School’s Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy, dedicated to research and scholarship on cutting-edge issues in intellectual property and innovation law and policy.

In his remarks at the event, Engelberg talked about his 85-year journey to that evening’s lectern, including his parent’s flight to the United States from Nazi Germany and his early jobs: 12-hour shifts at a bingo game on the New Jersey boardwalk, the graveyard shift as a lab technician at a steel mill, and work as a patent examiner and agent for Exxon during law school.

“I treasure those experiences,” he said. “I learned something from each job that helped me to navigate the next stage of my life with greater wisdom, confidence, and empathy.”

Engelberg praised the Law School’s Weinfeld community, recalling how fellow Weinfeld member John Sexton, then dean of the Law School, immediately understood the need for an institute devoted to intellectual property research when Engelberg first broached the idea in 1994. Engelberg also noted that his friendship with Anthony Welters began at a Weinfeld gala over 25 years ago, when Welters was inducted.

“I have gotten far more than I gave out of my thirty years as a member of this…community,” he said. “The stewards of this law school are not just smart and accomplished; they are people with great values who are fun to be around. I have learned so much from them.”

Photos from the 2024 Weinfeld Gala: 

Attendees at the 2024 Weinfeld gala
Troy McKenzie, Al Engelberg, and Anthony Welters
Board of Trustees chair David Tanner '84
Tony Welters
New York Public Library
Al Engelberg

Posted May 10, 2024.