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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 29, 2007

Law school gathering to say goodbye to old home

The University of Iowa College of Law will visit its old home one last time before the building falls to the wrecking ball.

The law school will hold an alumni gathering in the former Law Commons/Iowa Law Center on Riverside Drive from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8. All law alumni from the classes of 1936 through 1987 who attended class in the building will be invited back for a final nostalgic visit, along with many faculty who taught there.

"For decades, the Law Commons and Iowa Law Center played a significant part in the lives of so many law students, so it's appropriate we say one final farewell to a place that means so much to the College of Law's history," said law Dean Carolyn Jones, who attended class in the building as a law student from 1976 to 1979.

The Law Commons, known more recently as the International Center, is due to be demolished sometime next year to make way for a new building for the College of Public Health. Opened in 1935, the Law Commons first served as a residence hall for law students while the school itself was located in what is now Gilmore Hall, where it had moved to in 1913 from its first home in Old Capitol.

The building was used for other purposes during its residence hall years, as well; among other uses, the Army housed trainees there during World War II, and it was used as office space for the Department of Continuing Education and as a residence for campus visitors. Eventually it closed completely as a residence hall and-with the construction of a new library tower addition in 1959-became home to the law school itself in 1961 as the re-named Iowa Law Center.

"We loved moving to the Iowa Law Center," said Willard "Sandy" Boyd, UI law professor and president emeritus, who joined the law faculty in 1954. "Gilmore Hall was so cramped and tight. It had only three classrooms and too few faculty offices, and the library was bursting at the seams. We thought it was great when we moved to the Law Center."

The new building debuted with a splash, with Earl Warren, the chief justice of the United States, speaking at the dedication ceremony. But it wasn't long before the Iowa Law Center was also cramped and tight, so much so that the law school started planning for a new facility by the late 1970s. By 1986, the new building was ready and the law school moved into the Boyd Law Building, where it remains today.

"It was hard for many of us to leave the comfort and hominess of our offices of the remodeled Law Commons when the college moved to the ultramodern Boyd Law Building," said law professor and law school dean emeritus N. William Hines, who joined the Iowa law faculty in 1962 and who, as dean, oversaw the construction of the Boyd Law Building. "Like law graduates who lived in the Law Commons as students, those of us who taught, researched and socialized in the old building will be saddened to see it eliminated from the U of I campus after 72 years of useful service."

Among the prominent UI law alumni who either lived in Law Commons or attended school at the Iowa Law Center are: Norm Coleman, United States senator from Minnesota; Jerry Larson, associate justice on the Iowa Supreme Court; Fred Hubbell, former president, chairman and CEO of The Equitable insurance company, later executive board member and division chairman of ING insurance and financial services; and Robert Downer, Iowa City attorney and member of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa.

The alumni gathering will feature light refreshments and building tours. The Iowa Law School Foundation will also announce the details of a fundraising campaign in 2008 selling bricks from the building after it's been demolished.

For a QuickTime video slide show of historic images of the Law Commons and Iowa Law Center, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, University News Services, 319-384-0010,