BC Law School Dean John Garvey (right) greets one of his predecessors, Rev. Robert Drinan, SJ, who served as dean from 1956 to 1970, at the Oct. 4 kick-off celebration for the Law School 75th anniversary celebration. (Photo by Justin Knight)
Law School Celebrates 75 Years of 'Service and Justice'
Series of special events over next three years to mark anniversary
By Mark Sullivan
Seventy-five years ago this fall, the Boston College Law School opened for business in five rented rooms on the third floor of the Lawyer's Building at 11 Beacon Street in downtown Boston.
The fledgling law school had a dean and five teachers, tuition of $200 for day students and $150 for night students on a pay-as-you-can basis, and an aim of high standards: Fifty percent of the 101 students admitted to the first class in 1929 either flunked out or quit.
Three-quarters of a century later, BC Law is considered among the top 30 law schools in the nation and among the most popular, with 30 applicants for each of 260 places in its entering Class of 2007, while an alumnus, Sen. John F. Kerry JD '76, runs for president. [See related story]
The youngest of America's top-ranked law schools is marking its 75th anniversary with pride and a renewed commitment "to the ideals of service and justice that made it great, and today still make it a 'different kind of place,'" say organizers of a series of jubilee events planned to coincide with the matriculation of the Law School's 75th class.
"Through the next three years there will be distinguished visitors, special awards, and even gifts to commemorate the occasion as the 75th class in the history of BC Law marches toward graduation," said former deans Richard Huber and Daniel Coquillette, who are chairing the 75th Committee, in an announcement posted at the anniversary Web site.
"While there will be a celebratory air, this is also an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the goals of service for others and social justice in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition that sets this school apart."
Anniversary observances got underway Oct. 4 with a tribute in East Wing 115 to former Dean Robert Drinan, SJ, who gave an address and was presented the Law School's first Distinguished Service Medal.
Introducing Fr. Drinan, Law School Dean John Garvey said, "Father Bob Drinan was one of the most influential deans in the history of the school.
"He was instrumental in expanding and improving the reputation of Boston College Law throughout the nation. I am constantly hearing stories from alumni who were inspired by him, who thank him for getting them into Law School and starting their careers. He has been a personal hero to me."
In his remarks, Fr. Drinan, who is credited with building BC Law's national reputation as dean from 1956-70 before leaving to serve Massachusetts in Congress from 1971-81, urged the more than 300 students in attendance to commit themselves to building a better world.
Upcoming speakers and events will be announced at the Celebrating 75 Years Web site, said 75th Celebration Coordinator Jean French.
Nominations are being taken at the site for 75th Anniversary alumni awards, she said, and an online slideshow on Law School deans through the years accompanies the historical exhibition currently on display in the Law Library's Coquillette Rare Book Room.