GAINESVILLE, Fla. * University of Florida Levin College of Law officials report they have exceeded by $1.3 million their goal to raise $5 million toward expansion of facilities for the nation’s 11th largest law school.
W. C. Gentry of Jacksonville, a 1971 law school graduate and chairman of the Law Center Association Board of Trustees Building Campaign Committee, said members of the Board of Trustees and the law school’s Alumni Council raised more than $6.3 million * topping the goal for initial phase of the projected $25 million expansion by $1,311,000.
Gentry said the first priority will be construction, due to start later this year, of a major addition to the school’s law library with the resulting 100,000-square-foot facility to be named the Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center. Chiles, who died in 1998, was a Florida governor and U.S. senator and earned his UF law degree in 1955.
“We mark a new year and a new era at our college today,” said law Dean Jon Mills. “Our alumni and friends proved their commitment to the future of this distinguished institution, and to our students and faculty. Expansion and renovation of our facilities is one of the major remaining factors in achieving excellence and in striving to become one of the nation’s top 10 public law schools.”
He said the $25 million will pay most of the costs of a construction project that, in addition to the library expansion, will include a new 48,000-square- foot student/faculty academic center and renovations to existing Holland Law Center * a classroom and faculty office building completed in 1969 and named after former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Spessard Holland, a 1916 UF law grad.
Mills praised the leadership and initiative of UF President Charles Young and Provost David Colburn in designating university funds to supplement the private fund-raising effort.
“With the $6.3 million we raised and the scheduled state matching funds for this priority UF project, plus the $12.6 million provided by President Young and the university, we have the major part of what we need to provide first- class facilities to match first-class students and faculty,” Mills said.
Young said “success of this campaign is good news for the law school, its constituents and the university community. This generosity clearly demonstrates the tremendous support the college enjoys and will help to enhance the reputation of the university as a whole.”
Mills said the campaign was marked by an outpouring of grass-roots support from more than 500 alumni, faculty, staff, friends and students * including a “Class Gift” from fall 2001 graduates and combined donations from multiple student organizations. “Every gift, regardless of size, made a difference and helped us exceed our goal,” he noted.
Mills praised Board of Trustees chairman Marybeth McDonald and past chairman Richard M. “Robie” Robinson, both of Orlando, for their support. He noted the law Alumni Council, headed by Bruce Harris of Orlando and more than 200 class representatives, helped secure gifts from classmates and colleagues throughout Florida, Georgia and the United States.
“Generous support from law faculty also played a major role, as it has in prior fund-raising campaigns, ” Mills said.
He pointed out that enlarging and upgrading teaching facilities and the library, built in the late 1960’s, is critical for retention of American Bar Association accreditation and is a priority for Young and the UF administration. Mills said expansion would place the center among the top 20 of 182 academic law libraries in the country in terms of space.
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