May 11, 2012 — The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law announced that it has received a $4 million gift from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints toward construction of its new 155,000 gross square-foot facility that will support the law school’s cutting-edge service- and simulated learning pedagogies and collaborative research programs. Groundbreaking on the building is expected to begin in 2013, the College’s centennial year.
“Our new facility will transform the way in which architecture supports innovation and impact both within and through legal education,” said Dean Hiram Chodosh. After extensive architectural planning , consultation with community leaders and the college board of trustees, as well as extensive input from students, alumni, faculty, and university officials, the plan envisions what the Dean anticipates as “the most innovative law school facility in the country—one that will embody the College of Law’s commitment to collaborative research, student-centric learning, innovative programming, and direct public service all in a single, multifaceted facility.”
The College’s current building, which comprises approximately 98,000 gross square feet, has housed the College of Law since 1963, and is no longer adequate to meet programmatic and student needs, according to Chodosh. “Even as we have continued to make tremendous advances in our programs by admitting highly qualified candidates, providing extraordinary support for students, hiring world-class faculty, contributing record levels of student service learning, and turning in superior performances in national competitions, our physical facility has lagged far behind. All of our recent internal and external observations, including a recent evaluation by the American Bar Association, praise the excellence of the College’s programming, but note that we are severely constrained by the current building’s lack of useful classroom and student space, poor energy efficiency, and other functional inadequacies,” he said.
Although architectural plans have yet to be finalized, Chodosh revealed that the building’s current plans call for the inclusion of a 450-seat conference center that will allow the College of Law to host mid-sized conferences and lectures, and attract outside events to the U campus, which currently lacks a similar-sized venue. “We’re dedicated to bringing the actual costs of the building down by virtue of energy efficiency, the use of smart materials to reduce the costs of repair and replacement over time, and to bring funds in through research grants and other sources,” Chodosh explained.
Chodosh said the College has already embarked on a capital campaign with the goal of raising the projected $60.5 million total cost of the new facility. He described the LDS Church’s pledge of $4 million to the building campaign as “exceptionally generous and meaningful.”
“The donation from the LDS Church will support the College’s efforts to construct a building that will produce incalculable reputational benefits and substantial economic value for the state and community,” Chodosh said. “The LDS Church and the College of Law recognize our shared interest in increasing education’s global impact in a number of critical areas, including the development of democracy and the rule of law globally, new developments in health science, adaptations to emerging economic challenges, and stewardship of the environment. This gift will be invaluable in supporting our core commitments to student engagement and success, innovative teaching methodologies, and conducting research to address critical issues in society.”
“We are pleased to make this contribution to the building of a new law school at the University of Utah,” said Presiding Bishop Gary E. Stevenson. “The Church’s involvement with the university goes back to its founding. The new, state-of-the-art law school building and those who will graduate from there will benefit the university and the community.”
Having received Operation and Maintenance (O&M) authorization and bonding authority in the 2012 legislative session, the College now enters its final architectural design phase, according to Chodosh. Groundbreaking is planned for the summer of 2013.
The law school community is already eagerly anticipating that date. “When we first embarked on this process, my staff gave me a long-handled shovel,” Chodosh explained. “The shovel is patiently leaning against my wall, eagerly awaiting the day it can finally be put to good use.”
The new College of Law building is currently scheduled to open during the 2014-2015 academic year.