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Celebrations in the works to mark new Akron Law center

The construction and renovation of the C. Blake McDowell Law Center at The University of Akron School of Law is now complete and administrators are encouraging donors, alumni and others to register for the Sept. 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Photo courtesy of The University of Akron School of Law).

Legal News Reporter

Published: August 18, 2017

The construction and renovation of the C. Blake McDowell Law Center at The University of Akron School of Law is now complete and administrators are encouraging donors, alumni and others to register for the Sept. 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This ribbon-cutting ceremony is the culmination of much hard work and perseverance over the past several years,” said Matthew J. Wilson, former Akron Law dean and president of The University of Akron.

“It enables us not only to express our gratitude to those who made the $21 million debt-free renovation project possible, but also to everyone in the Akron Law family and legal community who contributes to the continuing success of Akron Law.”

“We expect several hundred members of the Akron Law family to attend, including faculty, staff, alumni, donors, representatives of the university and the community and student leaders,” said Akron Law Dean Christopher (C.J.) Peters.

“While the work began at the end of 2015, the idea dates back about 10 years,” said Lia Evans, director of alumni and development at Akron Law. “The project would never have come to fruition without the hundreds of private donors who provided varying levels of financial support.

“We received a total of $3 million in support of the C. Blake McDowell Law Center renovation from Beatrice K. McDowell,” said Evans.

David and Ann Amer Brennan donated $1.5 million, she said.

Several local firms also provided varying gift amounts, including Tzangas Plakas Mannos; Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs; Brennan Manna Diamond; Brouse McDowell and Roetzel & Andress.

“We were pleased by the generous support that we received from so many local firms,” said Evans. “We’ve always had a strong connection to the legal community. More than half the lawyers in Summit County are alums of the law school.

“The gifts we received allowed us to complete the $21 million project debt-free,” said Evans. “The entire renovation is equipped with live streaming capabilities and fully integrated technology.”

A number of the facilities are named in honor of their donors, including the 125-seat David and Ann Amer Brennan ceremonial courtroom/classroom. It’s located in the space once occupied by West Hall and also features the Tzangas Plakas Mannos Judge & Jury Suite.

“Local judges have already expressed an interest in holding trials in the new courtroom,” she said.

Located above the courtroom are two new 82-seat circular state-of-the art classrooms equipped with video conferencing and distance learning capabilities.

One of these rooms has been named the Dianne and Herb Newman Case Study Classroom.

The large two-story atrium known as the Beatrice K. McDowell Common will serve as a gathering, study and event space. The common area encompasses glass study rooms with teleconferencing ability, including the Buckingham Study Room and the Brennan Manna Diamond Study Room, as well as a café with lounge seating and a gas fireplace.

The second floor of the Common offers new study spaces, flexible classrooms and a renovated space dedicated to the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Technology, Center for Constitutional Law and the Joseph G. Miller and William C. Becker Center for Professional Responsibility.

The square footage of the library has been reduced to make room for collaborative student spaces and clinics as well as an academic support suite and the Brouse McDowell Career Planning Suite.

A moot courtroom has also been named in memory of the late Lawrence A. Sutter III, an Akron Law alumnus who coached the school’s successful trial advocacy teams for many years.

“It is a very nice space that will be used frequently by trial advocacy classes, and will undoubtedly serve as the central hub for mock trial practices,” said Evans.

“The state-of-the-art Brennan Courtroom, the Lawrence A. Sutter III Practice Courtroom, the versatile hi-tech classrooms, and the revamped student meeting and study spaces will help us continue and strengthen Akron Law’s long and proud tradition of excellence in hands-on legal education,” said Peters.

On Sept. 1, an informal picnic will be held for Akron Law students, faculty and staff to celebrate the building renovation.

The deadline to register for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception is August 25. To do so, go to uakron.edu/law/celebrate.

Those who attend the Sept. 8 event will get a chance to tour the new facility.

“We also will be holding other events in conjunction with the ribbon cutting, including meetings of our Advancement Council and our Intellectual Property Advisory Council, both of which include distinguished practitioners, judges and others from across the country,” said Peters.

On Sept. 9 Akron Law will also host a special outing as the Akron Zips face off against the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions at InfoCision Stadium. 

Anyone who would like to attend is encouraged to purchase tickets through Zips athletics using the code word UALAW. A section of seats has been reserved for Akron Law.