The occasion featured the establishment of a teaching award in honor of Prof. Emeritus Emil Slizewski (Law), a ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the school's new classroom and office wing, and a panel discussion on the school's history that included three former deans.
Many of those in attendance noted the dramatic changes that have taken place since the school opened in a Beacon Hill office building with 32 students and two full-time faculty members in September of 1929.
Law Dean John Garvey (left) and University President William P. Leahy, SJ, congratulate Prof. Emeritus Emil Slizewski at the Law School's 70th anniversary celebration on Oct. 8. A teaching award was established in Slizewski's name.
"The dedication of the East Wing offers us an opportunity to think about the evolution of the Boston College Law School," University President William P. Leahy, SJ, said at the event. "There has been a great deal of physical change, but the dreams and vision that inspired those in 1929 remains very strong today." The commitments to academic excellence and service to society on which the Law School was founded remain in place, Fr. Leahy added.
"We rededicate ourselves to those same dreams and aspirations that motivated people 70 years ago," Fr. Leahy said.
Slizewski, who joined the faculty in 1944 shortly after graduating from the school, was presented with a Revere silver bowl representing the Law School's new Emil Slizewski Faculty Excellence Award. The honor will be presented annually by the students at the Law School Commencement Exercises.
Law Dean John Garvey regaled the audience members - nearly every one of whom had taken at least one Slizewski class - with tales of his legendary tough grading. "A C-plus was a badge of honor," Garvey said, "It was as well as you could do."
The celebration began with a panel discussion moderated by Renee Landers JD '85 , on the many changes at the school in its 70-year history. Panelists included former long-time admissions director Louise Clark, retired Judge Mary Beatty Muse JD '50, and Alicia Alvarez JD '85. Former deans Robert Drinan, SJ, Prof. Emeritus Richard Huber and Monan Professor of Law Daniel Coquillette also participated.
Several of the panelists hailed the Law School's record on gender and racial diversity. Coquillette noted that while the early classes consisted mostly of Catholic men, such lawyers were rare in Boston at the time and BC helped diversify the city's legal community. The school's later efforts in admitting women, and in hiring and promoting women and people of color on the faculty, were well ahead of more established law schools, he said.
Fr. Drinan recalled starting the school's first clinical programs and said the school's mission has become more global. He noted that about half the world's nations use legal systems modeled on America's, which itself finds its legal roots in Roman Catholic canon law.
"Lawyers," he said, "I call moral architects. They are structuring a new society, and for 70 years this institution has been doing that."
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