Sept. 28, 2022 — After decades of dreaming of a modern, all-above-ground facility, the University of Houston Law Center celebrated the culmination of tremendous efforts to bring the John M. O’Quinn Law Building into reality with two celebration events last week.
University of Houston and UH Law Center leaders, alumni, government officials and others involved in the building project gathered Thursday evening for the ribbon-cutting of the new nearly $93 million, 180,000-square-foot building on the University of Houston campus.
University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes welcomed guests to the momentous occasion by noting that “this university encourages us to dare to dream.”
Baynes reminded attendees that it was the collective commitments and philanthropy of UH Law Center donors, alumni, faculty, students, staff, UH Leadership and members of the legislature that brought this building to life.
Founded in 1947, the UH Law Center has a growing network of more than 17,000 alumni worldwide. Today, the UH Law Center is among the top-tier law schools in the nation with three specialty law programs (intellectual property, health law and part-time) ranked in the Top 10 nationally by the U.S. News & World Report.
“The Law Center stands on the excellence of the foundation built over the years. Now that excellence has found a fitting home. Let’s focus on what is next for the Law Center because our golden days are still ahead of us,” said Renu Khator, University of Houston President.
In addition to the J.D. and LL.M degree programs, the UH Law Center houses nationally recognized clinics, specialty institutes, pre-law pipeline initiatives and career services.
“Let’s remember the community that depends on this law school. Let’s put this building to work to change our community,” said Texas State Senator John Whitmire ’80, who is known as the dean of the Texas Senate and is a University of Houston and UH Law Center alumnus.
Texas State Representative Jolanda Jones ’95, who serves House District 147, which includes the University of Houston campus, echoed Whitmire’s comment about how important the UH Law Center is to the local community.
Jones, who earned her undergrad and law degree from the University of Houston, spoke about being from the Third Ward area and the impact of the school on the disadvantaged community, “We have not always had access. The University of Houston is accessible to all. For people like me, especially from this neighborhood, we fight for the least, the last and the lost.”
Sylvester Turner, Houston Mayor and University of Houston alumnus commented on the quality of students and alumni at the university saying, “The best for the university and the best for this law school has yet to come. The talent was always here. The talent has just been given a better place to reside.”
Texas State Senator Royce West ’79, who represents Senate District 23 and is UH Law Center alumnus, remarked about the great experience current and future law center students will have in the new building.
Tom Hetherington ’98, a UH Law Center alumnus and UH Law Foundation President, spoke about the efforts of alumni to jump start the More the Bricks funding campaign and noted that more than 400 alumni donated to the building.
Texas State Representative Armando Walle ’14, who serves House District 140, addressed the crowd via a video message. Walle, who is a University of Houston and UH Law Center alumnus, spoke about the importance of access to education.
The ribbon-cutting was followed by a Celebration and Dedication Conference on Friday with some of the most notable names bar association leadership, the judiciary, law firms, legal employers, and academia joining the University of Houston Law Center to commemorate the opening of the new building.
Remarking on the achievements of the UH Law Center, Dr. Robert H. McPherson, Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost for the University of Houston said, “The John M. O’Quinn Law Building is a magnificent addition to campus and continues a tradition of excellence that began 75 years ago when the UH Law Center was founded. I’ve long said that this outstanding law school is a crown jewel at the University of Houston. Now, that jewel’s value is enhanced for students, our institution, and the state of Texas.”
Alex B. Roberts ’06, President of the University of Houston Law Alumni Association noted the transformational change of having a new building, which was designed by the women-owned architectural firm, Shepley Bulfinch and constructed by Austin Commercial.
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