On Wednesday, the Washburn Board of Regents approved funding proposal for a new building to house the Washburn University School of Law. While board of regents member Dan Lykins still holds the school to be “the Cadillac of law schools” and believes it delivers a Cadillac-quality education, he told his fellow members on the board: “…the building itself is a 1969 Cadillac we’re still driving, even though we’ve put a lot of new tires and new paint on it.”
The proposal for a new $40 million single-building for the Washburn University School of Law is one of the biggest funding proposals in the history of the Washburn University. The building would come up on the southeast corner of campus at Washburn and S.W. 21st.
The proposed 152,600-square-foot building would be funded by a primary $20 million fundraising effort by the Washburn University Foundation. A sum of $10 million would be received from the university reserve funds, additionally. And the remaining $10 million would be borrowed by short-term bonds.
WU President Jerry Farley said the “signature program” would be important for the state of Kansas and for Topeka and Shawnee County. He said, “When I hear people around the country talk about Washburn, they almost always mention the excellence of the school of law … It has truly developed a phenomenal reputation. But right now, we don’t have the building we need for a world-class school of law in the 21st century.”
While the 420 students signal a decline in enrollment, law school dean Thomas Romig also stressed that the law school building only has 96,000 square feet area, where regional law schools in Colorado and Oklahoma had schools averaging around 177,000 square feet.
The dean acknowledged that the project was required at a time when law school applications are down nationwide and the educational system of law schools was under criticism. However, he emphasized that the decline was a response to changing economic realities and that too was bound to change. The proposed new building would be able to house 480 students, a number that Washburn had handled in the past, albeit with difficulty in accommodation.