Law School Plans Move to Carolina North

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Calling it “a momentous day in the life of this School of Law,” Dean Jack Boger ’74 (JD) has told faculty, students, staff and alumni of UNC’s law school that he has accepted an offer from Chancellor James Moeser and Provost Bernadette Gray-Little to move the school to the new Carolina North campus.

Boger said the school would be “the anchor tenant, as it were, on the first great quadrangle to be established at Carolina North.”

The school faced the question of whether to relocate or to try to expand on the main campus. Boger explained that the Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, built in 1968, and a large addition built in the 1990s no longer were adequate to the school’s needs. He cited “recent changes in legal pedagogy and the demands of the modern practice of law — especially the move toward smaller classes, seminars and simulation courses, as well as the substantial expansion in our faculty’s size and research interests, our clinical, trial advocacy and moot court programs, our student law journals and other organizations, and the growth of new interdisciplinary law school centers.”

Boger said the school seeks “a modern, environmentally friendly facility, one open to other schools and departments, to other scholars, our alumni and the interested public. We need a building that reflects, in its physical stature and design, not only the present and glimpses of the future, but also the deepest values of the University, with echoes of McCorkle Place, Polk Place and the graceful beauty of the present campus.”

The move has the Board of Trustees’ approval, and it is expected to be one of four capital funding priorities in the 2008 short session of the N.C. General Assembly. Boger said the move could be completed by 2012 or 2013.

Boger also hinted at the possible makeup of the new campus, envisioned on part of the University’s 1,000-acre tract at the present location of Horace Williams Airport, pending zoning change approval of the town of Chapel Hill.

“We anticipate that our eventual neighbors will include other distinguished professional schools, the University’s research centers and institutes, and exciting but still unborn academic activities.”

The school plans to expand its faculty to 58 from 43 members. It raised $32 million in the recent Carolina First Campaign and also secured a new recurring $2 million appropriation from the N.C. General Assembly.

In his letter, Boger recounted the physical history of the school.

Law studies began in two private homes, first that of William Horn Battle (class of 1820) in 1845; then the home of its second professor, Samuel Field Phillips (class of 1841). Subsequently classes were taught in Old West, South Building and Smith Hall (now Playmakers Theatre). In 1923, the school moved into Manning Hall and, in 1968, to Van Hecke-Wettach Hall.

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