Funding Proposal Approved for New Law School Building

The Washburn University Board of Regents approved a funding proposal for a new law school building at its July 2012 meeting.

The proposed 152,600 square foot facility, to be located on the southeast corner of the Washburn campus, will be an investment in a 21st century learning and technology environment that will accommodate a broader, deeper legal curriculum and provide much-needed space for classrooms, a student commons area, collaborative work areas, courtrooms, the four Centers for Excellence, the Law Library, and the Washburn Law Clinic. The estimated $40 million project will be financed through a $20 million fundraising effort, with an additional $10 million coming from university reserve funds and $10 million in short-term bonds.

The decision to construct a new building follows completion of intense and thorough evaluations of the current facilities and projected needs required to meet the ever-changing landscape of legal education. Administrators spent three years evaluating the law school's existing building, examining other campuses, and soliciting proposals from architecture firms. A law school design charette resulted in three architecture firms presenting conceptual designs and estimating costs for both an expansion of the existing law school building and a new law school facility. Administrators considered an addition and renovation to the existing space, but determined that constructing a new building was the more cost effective option.

"It was only after a careful review of the learning and teaching spaces in our current facility and comparing them with future needs that the decision was made to move decisively forward with our goal of a new Law School building," Dean Thomas Romig said. "People had been talking about a new building for the law school when I arrived as dean in 2007," he added. "There was a sense that we really needed it because we were out of space. Every time we have required new offices or more meeting space, we had to carve it out of the library. This has been a thorough, deliberate process."
Architectural Rendering: North entrance of proposed new Washburn Law building.

The current law facility has provided the backdrop and learning environment for the exceptional educational experience of Washburn Law alumni since 1969. In the nearly 50 years since its construction, the Washburn Law facility has met the changing needs of its students and advances in curriculum with multiple additions and renovations. The continuing evolution of legal education requires more specialized courses and programs that emphasize group learning.

"We continue to be quite challenged by the lack of space in the law school. Law curriculum is much different than it was 50 years ago. New kinds of courses require different types of classroom spaces and teaching resources. The curriculum is broader, with more specialized courses and programs. Spaces in the new building will facilitate Washburn Law's hands-on training educational experience," Romig said. "To remain on the leading edge of legal education and successfully recruit talented faculty and students, we must provide the best possible skills training experience and legal educational environment for our students. Our current facility does not meet today's needs or those for the future."

"The Law School is fortunate to have a wide base of support for this project from the University administration, Board of Regents, Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, law school alumni, faculty, staff, and students. A new building will perpetuate Washburn Law's stellar reputation and enhance its already distinguished faculty/student interaction, faculty accessibility and practical skills training experience."

— Dean Thomas Romig

To Support This Project or Learn More

Contact Joel Lauer at (785) 670-1702 or jlauer@wufoundation.org.