Law school hits snag on renovations

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A $35 million expansion of the Saint Louis University School of Law has been delayed due to a faltering economy.

Though the law school had anticipated breaking ground on the project by last May, Laura Garner, director of marking and communications for the School of Law, said University officials are evaluating the scope and timing of the project to determine the best manner in which to proceed, but that the project is not on hold.

“It is common for plans for projects and expansions to change over time,” Garner said. “Economic challenges across the country have impacted many organizations’ fundraising goals, and our building campaign has also been impacted by these conditions.”

Garner said the school has sent several significant proposals out to potential donors in hopes of starting the fundraising.

SLU announced its intentions to expand and renovate the School of Law on May 15, 2009, following a $3 million donation from the Anheuser-Busch Foundation. Though Garner would not comment on how much money has been raised thus far, she said that all donated funds are being retained within the University so the renovations can occur when the appropriate funding is in place.

“We are progressing slowly,” Garner said. “We wanted to take our time on next steps related to the building to allow our new dean to get up to speed on the project. Dean Clark believes that the building campaign is an important part of the law school’s future and, along with everyone at the law school, remains committed to providing our students with a high quality legal education.”

Among the proposed changes are a new state-of-the-art classroom building, a stately courtroom, the Anheuser-Busch Student Commons, a modernized legal information center and an exterior facade in the classic Gothic style. The law school is currently transitioning to the leadership of newly appointed dean Annette Clark. Clark, who assumed her post on July 1, is currently reviewing proposed plans for the building with the University to ensure they are as strategic as possible during the current economic climate.

Student Government Associate School of Law Senator Grant Farnsworth said that SLU informed him of the status of the proposed expansion on Monday, Sept. 26. Farnsworth also said that the slow progress was not due to failed or overambitious planning, but instead to a closed-pocked economy.

“No one wants to give,” Farnsworth said. “I think everyone wants to renovate and make the law school a better, nicer place, to help SLU on the national level, but we have to determine what’s the best way to do that.”

Though Farnsworth said he did not know how far behind the project was from its original schedule, he said students should not be worried about the delay.

“We don’t want to partially build [the renovations] without being able to finish it,” Farnsworth said. “That would be worse than not doing anything at all.”