Foreman Farley, alumni and others break ground for new school of law building

Let it Begin!: Ground broken, work can now begin on the construction of the new building. Farley and the other alumni members looked happy as they dug with their shovels.

When ground is broken for a new building, it typically doesn’t happen inside.

Washburn alumni, current Law School faculty and others gathered at Lee Arena on Friday, June 11 at 3 p.m. to participate in the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new School of Law building.

With thunder booming and rain lashing the ground outside, the groundbreaking was moved into Lee Arena as it provided a drier venue for the many attendees. Large troughs filled with dirt from the dig site were carried inside the basketball court.

“I don’t know how well your readers know, but Washburn has a very storied history with the weather in June,” said Washburn Alumni Association President Marshall Meek. “So we didn’t plan an outdoor event in June without a lot of thought and care into what would happen if a storm rolled through right before or during our event.”

The ceremony marked the end of a long road of planning and fundraising on the part of the University and the contributions of over 1200 donors. This latest edition to the Washburn campus is expected to be finished in December of 2022.

“I’m so excited about this building,” said President Farley. “It’s been a little over 10 years from the first time we started talking about it, and it’ll be another 18 months until it’s ready to occupy and so I’m just excited.”

Around 150 people crowded the basketball court on Friday for the ceremony. Many of them had donated generous amounts of money to the project and were present to see what their dollars had accomplished.

After a few speeches from President Farley, Meek, School of Law Dean Carla Pratt and other alumni members, the ground was officially broken.

In total, $14.5 million dollars was raised for this project, most of which is attributed to donations from alumni members not just from the School of Law but other parts of the university as well.

State of the Art: This is what the new School of Law building is expected to look like. The plaza will be named after Bob Dole.

Some of the donations were anonymous but all were thanked and represented on the Alumni Association’s website. To see the full list of donors and their contributions, check here.

Dean Pratt couldn’t have been happier with the ceremony on Friday and what it represented for the future of law education at Washburn.

“I’m thrilled,” said Pratt. “It took a while to get here. Dean Thomas Romig launched the project when he was dean and so I inherited the fundraising campaign and was able to work with all of our alumni and our friends to find people who wanted to support the project. So I’m really grateful to our donors, and I want to thank them, because they really made this possible and we’re all the beneficiaries of their generosity.”

This new building will sit on the southeast part of campus with the KBI building to the north and Lee arena to the northwest.

A New Home: The School of Law has had many locations around Washburn’s campus and Topeka over the years. This new location will likely be its home for years to come.

The new School of Law building is expected to bring many new updates with it which will help future law students with their educational goals.

“When we move into this building, it’s going to be a state of the art facility that will allow us to do a lot of things that we can’t really do easily right now,” said Pratt. “So it’ll have the integrated technology to make our lives easier and to improve the education that we deliver to students.”

One major improvement that is coming with the new building is online video creation studios which will allow students and faculty to create videos for online courses and upgrade the content of online lectures.

The building itself will largely resemble Morgan Hall as it will have two large wings extending outward, meeting in the middle with a large tower reminiscent of the one standing atop the Memorial Union.

To find out more about the building and ongoing fundraising efforts, check here.

President Farley indicated that he was proud of the alumni community at Washburn for their part in funding the project.

“Someone the other day asked me, ‘how many buildings have you built since you’ve been at Washburn?’ None,” said Farley. “I can’t do anything with a hammer. But I’ve been involved in every building, and involved in this building, trying to help them find out what they need to have happen. To try to make it easy for it to happen for them, whatever it might be.”

Edited by: Madison Dean