The American University Washington College of Law community gathered on Wednesday, June 12, to break ground on a new home at the historic Tenley Campus. The ceremony on the site of the new campus was hosted by AU president Neil Kerwin and AUWCL dean Claudio Grossman. More than 200 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the law school attended the event.
Guests donned AUWCL hard hats for the occasion and sipped “Tenley Tea” in the shade of the campus’s mature trees while waiting for the festivities to begin.
“We need more than just square feet,” said Grossman in his opening remarks. “We need a permanent home that honors our history, that meets the evolving needs of today by providing the flexibility to anticipate the future. A home that reflects our standing and stature as a world-class institution that fully realizes the vision of our founders in today’s changing world.”
The eight-acre Tenley Campus site, located one block from the Tenleytown Metro station, will enhance AUWCL's rich tradition of innovation, excellence, and passion for the rule of law in the U.S. and beyond.
When construction is complete in fall 2015, AUWCL will be among the most technically advanced law schools in the country. The light-filled and LEED-certified facility, measuring approximately 312,000 square feet, will include flexible teaching spaces, a conference center, expanded clinic space, teaching courtrooms, and multiple indoor and outdoor student study and meeting spaces.
The enhanced Pence Law Library will feature an alumni center, providing the law school's more than 18,000 alumni with research and business resources when they visit. The location near the Metro will give the legal community, business leaders, government officials, and alumni better access to the law school while providing students with a direct line to the heart of Washington, D.C.
“This is a very important milestone for American University and for the Washington College of Law,” Kerwin told the guests. “This university and this law school in particular will continue to bring enlightenment, diversity, access, and creativity to not only the practice of law but to the behavior of all legal institutions. This project is indeed a bold statement, a confident statement, of how badly the city of Washington, the United States of America, and the world at large needs the extraordinary work that is done by this law school every day of its existence.”
Distinguished alumni, including Robert Pence '71, Stephen Skippy Weinstein '65, Judge Dorothy Beasley '65, Judge Gerald Lee ’76, and Edna Ruth Vincent '89, and Ken Lore, chair of the Dean's Advisory Council, also gave remarks, conveying their experiences at AUWCL and expressing confidence in the law school's future at Tenley.
"We have such an incredibly full series of offerings at the law school, and very well-educated and committed professors and students," said Lore. “The experience and the education that I got at AUWCL has allowed me to live an incredibly full life, and to achieve all kinds of professional and personal goals—many of which I never knew I had."
Guests at the groundbreaking enjoyed a barbeque following the ceremony—complete with Frisbee-throwing and picnic blankets. They were also invited to walk the grounds of the new law school site.
“It was really striking to see how beautiful the new campus is. This eight acre campus is the solution we have always hoped for—we are going where we ought to be,” said Elliott Milstein, former dean of AUWCL and past president of the Association of American Law Schools. “Being at this event really makes us feel connected to the long and glorious history of the law school. The new Tenley Campus will also be a fine place for our Clinical Program—a great space for a teaching law office and easy for our clients to find."
Watch Dean Grossman & President Kerwin’s remarks from the groundbreaking ceremony.