SALT LAKE CITY — Elevators at the new S.J. Quinney College of Law building were packed Tuesday morning as nearly 900 people made their way to the sixth floor auditorium for a grand opening ceremony.
“Until today, I thought we built a big enough building,” said Robert Adler, dean of the University of Utah College of Law.
The $62.5 million, 155,000-square-foot building features universal accessibility that exceeds the national Americans with Disabilities Act standard and a 65 percent reduction in energy costs beyond code requirements, making it the second LEED law building in the nation and the first in the West, university officials said.
Local dignitaries joining Adler at the ceremony included U. President David Pershing; Gov. Gary Herbert; and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; as well as donor representatives the Rev. Rick Lawson of the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation, and President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Hatch and Herbert joined Adler, Pershing and President Michele Ballantyne of the S.J. Quinney College of Law and Alumni Board of Trustees in a dedicatory gavel strike, which took the place of a traditional ribbon-cutting.
Pershing said the new building reflects more than a decade of dreaming, planning and persistence, calling it a “building for the future.”
Adler said it gives him a new vision for the college. Last year, the school’s state bar pass rate was 91 percent, with a professional employment rate of 92 percent. Now, he wants to see 100 percent of students pass and find professional employment within nine months of graduation.
Second-year law student Pablo Haspel said he believes the dean’s vision is possible because the building creates a striking learning environment. Haspel, who lived in Florida, said he decided to attend the U. after seeing a brochure about the new building.
“Altogether the building is beautiful and the ceremony was beautiful,” he said. “It was great to have (Gov. Herbert and Sen. Hatch) here because it shows that we are important as one of Utah’s only two law schools.”
Herbert praised the dedicated students at the U. and said he’s confident they will uphold the laws of Utah and of the nation.
“We always need to remember that laws and liberty are only as good as the people’s determination to uphold and defend them,” the governor said.
Jugraj Dhaliwal, another second-year law student, said the new building inspires him to keep studying.
“Most students have really lofty goals when they come into law school, but you lose sight of that,” Dhaliwal said. “But when you see these walls and these huge ceilings, it reminds you why you came here. This new building with its grand features and state-of-the-art technology stands as an embodiment of the accomplishments and contributions that the many great students who came before us made to our community and to our world.”
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