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Cornerstone: Building for the Future

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A Consolidation of Gains


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By Michael K. Young

A Consolidation of Gains

Your Law School is in the middle of a period of extraordinary change. From the inside out, we are creating a new school. The dust and dirt of last summer’s construction were swept away in the fall to reveal our renovated classrooms with built-in, state-of-the-art technology. In December, we turned the corner with our construction by completing new facilities at 700 20th Street, and we celebrated our cornerstone dedication with Justice Scalia in March. Our faculty members appear in the media so frequently that some professors are in danger of becoming household words, and their productivity in print continues at an astounding rate. By conservative count, our professors published more than 40 books and hundreds of articles last year alone. Our ascendance on the legal horizon has not gone unnoticed; applications to GW Law School are up by almost 30 percent, to well over 10,000 applications this year, a record in every sense. And everywhere I travel in the United States or abroad, I see our graduates in positions of national and international prominence.

I find it hard not to rave about the vast improvements in our physical surroundings. Our classrooms now provide an extraordinarily enhanced learning environment. Through technology, we are able to bring the world directly to our students through Internet connections. And the technology runs both ways. We can export our knowledge to alumni, colleagues, and students around the globe via streaming video. We have transformed the walls of the ivory tower into glass and now provide our students an education without limits or boundaries.

Part of our new facility houses the Dean’s suite, the Admissions Office, and the Dean of Students Office. The concentration of our administrative services in one location not only greatly benefits our students by providing more efficient access to support, but this improvement also has freed up considerable additional student space for studying and collaborative intellectual activity. Our Career Development Office has just moved into Burns Law Library in the very heart of the Law School, relocating to a position of prominence in custom-designed space. And the new Faculty Conference Center provides a focal point for faculty dialogue, as well as an elegant space for the exchange of ideas among the many distinguished scholars who are attracted to our center of learning. In the past few months alone, since its completion, we have welcomed prominent professors from all over the United States, academics and statesmen from all over the world, including the dean of India’s most prominent law school, a justice of the International Court of Justice and, most recently, a justice of the United States Supreme Court. Already, this Faculty Conference Center has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the most exciting places to be in Washington!

And we are not done. Even before the dust settled on our latest project, planning for our next phase of construction began in earnest. This next development will take us even further down G Street to Lisner and Stuart Halls, where we will have more classrooms, space for students, offices for faculty members and visiting scholars, and room to expand the myriad programs we offer and to further stimulate scholarly activity. Construction on this new facility will begin next fall, and we will take occupancy by the following summer.

Our alumni meet with us all over the world and provide ideas, advice, and counsel regarding ways in which we can make our research and teaching relevant and important to current national and international debates.

As I finish my fourth year at GW, I marvel at how far we have come in such a short period of time, and I am deeply grateful to the synergy of forces that has made such progress possible. One such force is our students—we continue to attract the best and the brightest. The increase in applications necessitates more selective admissions, and LSAT scores and grade point averages of admitted students continue to rise. Once here, our students fully live up to their promise. They engage in an unbelievably wide range of career-oriented and pro bono activities. They perform exceptionally well in class. They try cases, serve clients, win national and international moot court competitions, and publish five journals with only the most gentle guidance from our faculty. Our students extend the education sparked by our faculty and seek out every opportunity to teach themselves. The result is a stunningly rich and diverse student body with remarkable intellectual depth in a multitude of subjects.

Among the key ingredients to our success has been our alumni. Not only are our graduates incredibly prosperous in their professional lives, but they also share their success with the Law School in numerous ways. Our alumni call and meet with admitted students and, then, hire these same students upon graduation. Our alumni meet with us all over the world and provide ideas, advice, and counsel regarding ways in which we can make our research and teaching relevant and important to current national and international debates. More than 100 alumni actively teach at the Law School. And all of our alumni make us enormously proud through their professional accomplishments and their contributions to the communities in which they live and work. Across the country, alumni are strong supporters of our joint enterprise, and I thank all who have given their time and resources to make our new buildings and our new academic programs a reality.

As noted earlier, our faculty, long renowned for dedication and teaching ability, makes its mark in the world almost daily through media appearances and newspaper articles. Indeed, in the past few months alone, hardly a day has gone by during which at least two or three GW professors haven’t appeared on television or radio or been questioned by the press. Our academic expertise is nationally and internationally recognized and our ability to translate knowledge into solutions to meet today’s social, political, and economic needs is highly desired. GW’s prominence as an institution of higher learning in the field of international law ensures that we trade in the marketplace of ideas globally, not just domestically. This past year, teams of professors have visited dozens of countries to lecture and consult on important topics of legal reform. In that effort, our faculty members can count passport entry stamps from countries as far flung as China, Vietnam and Thailand, Brazil, Mexico and Costa Rica, Germany, France and the U.K., Japan, Taiwan and Korea, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. No place is too far away to feel the reach and influence of the GW Law School.

As we march toward the installation of our excellent faculty, administration, and students into our newly completed and yet to be built buildings, we achieve the best of both worlds—academic excellence surrounded by efficient (and beautiful!) workspace. As you read this issue, join me in celebrating the dedication of our new physical plant and, even more important, the bright future for our faculty and students that it portends.

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