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Akron Law kicks off its Centennial celebration

The University of Akron School of Law will kick off its Centennial celebration on Sept. 8 at Sheraton Suites Akron Cuyahoga Falls. Pictured here is the building on East Market Street that initially housed the law school alongside the current facility.

Legal News Reporter

Published: September 3, 2021

Founded in 1921 by former 9th District Court of Appeals Judge Charles R. Grant, attorney Paul Short and private school educator Charles A. Neale as a three-year part-time evening program, the institution now known as The University of Akron School of Law has undergone numerous changes and expanded greatly during its 100-year history.
Initially housed in a building on East Market Street (now home to Crave restaurant), today the C. Blake McDowell Law Center is located on University Avenue.
The recently renovated building features three large state-of-the-art classrooms equipped with video conferencing and distance learning capabilities; a large two-story atrium (Beatrice K. McDowell Common), which serves as a gathering, study and event space; the ceremonial David and Ann Amer Brennan Courtroom that has been used to host numerous high profile events as well as other amenities.
From the very beginning, faculty and administrators have included top-notch talent such as Judge Grant, who served as the first dean and faculty member Wendell Willkie, the 1940 Republican nominee for U.S. President.
There are now approximately 50 faculty and adjunct professors that utilize their unique backgrounds and experience to enhance student learning like Akron Law Professor Mark F. Schultz, a recognized trade secret law expert, who serves as director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Technology; Professor Brant T. Lee, who teaches a free online course on Racial Equality and the Law to more than 5,000 students nationwide and Professor Tracy A. Thomas, a nationally known expert on U.S. Constitutional history and women in the law.
Accredited by the American Bar Association since 1961, Akron Law offers numerous degrees and certificate programs to students, including the traditional J.D. degree, a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) for professionals in law-related fields and a two-year J.D. option for students and practicing lawyers with a foreign law degree.
It’s these accomplishments and many more that administrators, educators, alumni, students and members of the legal community are coming together to celebrate on the evening of Sept. 8.
The cocktail reception, which takes place at Sheraton Suites Akron Cuyahoga Falls is the official kickoff to the school’s Centennial celebration, which will continue through May 2022.
The event, which begins at 5 p.m., will include remarks from The University of Akron President Gary Miller and Akron Law Dean Christopher J. (C.J.) Peters.
A brief video depicting various milestones in the school’s history will also be debuted. The video was produced and narrated by former WHLO Radio reporter and news director Dave Lieberth, who served as deputy mayor for the city of Akron for just over 10 years and is an Akron Law alumnus.
“This is an extremely big deal for us because not many institutions last 100 years or serve a single community the way we have for a century,” said Peters. “This law school has given opportunities to more than 8,500 graduates and helped the community in many ways through its clinics and the work of our graduates.
“It’s really a testament to the support the community has provided to the law school and university that we’ve been able to survive and thrive for a century.”
Invitations have already gone out to staff, faculty, alumni, university leaders, members of the bench and bar and the school’s law firm partners.
Several hundred have been invited to attend the celebration, which is not open to the public. Peters said organizers are expecting 100 to 200 people to turn out.
Following the kickoff, there are several upcoming Centennial events.
On Sept. 16, one day before the official celebration of Constitution Day, Rutgers Law School Professor Katie Eyer will present a lecture entitled, “The Hidden Constitution” in the McDowell Law Center.
On Friday, Sept. 24, the school will host the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, which will hear oral arguments on a case, followed by a question and answer session with students.
There are also two events scheduled for late October, including the Centennial Keynote, which takes place on Oct. 23 at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. The featured speaker is Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Joan L. Larsen.
Then on Oct. 26 and 27, the Ohio Supreme Court will hear oral arguments at the law school.
For more information on these and other events you can visit the website at