On June 9, the Cornell Law community, including many alumni on campus for the 2012 Reunion, gathered above Purcell Courtyard to celebrate the launch of the school’s first major expansion and renovations project in twenty-five years.
Eighty years ago, when Myron Taylor Hall was dedicated, the Law School had fourteen faculty members and 157 students. It now boasts more than 50 full-time faculty members, 695 students, forty officially recognized student groups, and eleven faculty-led research centers, institutes, and programs, as well as many visiting scholars and exchange students from around the world.
“As a practical matter, we are bursting at the seams,” said Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tesslar Dean and Professor of Law, as he addressed the celebrants. “But there are loftier reasons for this expansion and renovation… More than ever, we must emphasize the accessibility of the law, and the relation between law and culture in an increasingly diverse world. Our physical space must reflect these ideals. Indeed, our physical space can foster these ideals.”
In the first phase of construction, a new wing will be built into the hill that borders Purcell Courtyard to the east. Housing a lobby and study space along with three state-of-the-art classrooms, the addition will be accessible from the courtyard at ground level as well as from a new entrance on College Avenue that will serve as a clearly recognizable main entry point to Myron Taylor and also reach out to the rest of the university.
“We are all dazzled by the way the expansion and renovations have been designed,” said Franci Blassberg’77, Chair of the Law School Advisory Council, who followed Schwab at the podium on June 9.
She in turn was followed by Cornell University President David J. Skorton, who lauded the expansion of Cornell Law’s scope, in both international and interdisciplinary dimensions, over the last 25 years. Throughout the renovations ahead, he said, “the Law School will remain a small school of large vision within one of the world’s great universities.”
The ceremony concluded with a toast from Schwab and the distribution of hard hats and specially designed commemorative shovels to the three speakers, as well as to Law School benefactor Jack Clarke’52, Vice Dean and Professor of Law Barbara Holden-Smith, and Student Board representative Rachel Sparks Bradley ’12. After some deliberation about the appropriate technique (from his many years of groundbreakings, Skorton advised the group, “It’s very important not to shovel toward the Trustees.”), the VIPs dug in, officially breaking ground on the historic expansion.