(OXFORD, Miss.) – The April 15 dedication of the Robert C. Khayat Law Center at the University of Mississippi will celebrate both the opening of a state-of-the-art law school facility and the man who shepherded the university through more than a decade of growth.
The 2:30 p.m. ceremony will include comments from UM law alumnus and author John Grisham and will honor the building’s namesake, Robert C. Khayat, esteemed chancellor emeritus and board distinguished professor of law.
“The dedication of the law center is a significant event not only for the School of Law, but for the entire university,” said UM Chancellor Dan Jones. “This occasion provides the entire university family the opportunity to recognize the remarkable contributions of Robert Khayat to the university in his many roles, including his transformative leadership as chancellor from 1995 to 2009.”
Khayat served as the university’s 15th chancellor, and under his leadership, the university experienced a renaissance. He drew praise for a multitude of achievements, including two capital campaigns generating $775 million in private support. With that support, the university created the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Croft Institute for International Studies, the Lott Leadership Institute, Galtney Center for Academic Computing, Ford Center for the Performing Arts and Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, in addition to expanding its academic and athletics facilities.
Khayat also was committed to securing a Phi Beta Kappa chapter for the university and achieved that goal in 2001. During his tenure as chancellor, the university’s enrollment increased by 43.6 percent, endowment increased by 313 percent and private support increased by 288 percent.
“The Robert C. Khayat Law Center marks the beginning of a new era for the university,” said Richard Gershon, UM law dean. “This is an exciting time for the law school.”
Gershon is especially pleased with the layout of the new building.
“The openness of the new building has fostered a greater sense of community,” he said. “Everyone enjoys being in the building.”
When the fundraising campaign for the new facility was formally announced in 2007, the law school committed itself to building a structure that would provide space for expansion of the school’s important clinical programs. The clinics offer UM law students unique opportunities to gain real-world legal experience under the guidance of experienced professors. The School of Law houses a number of centers and clinics, including the Civil Legal Clinic, the Criminal Appeals Clinic, the Mississippi Innocence Project, the National Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law Center, and the Prosecution Externship Program.
Each group has its own facilities in the new building, which allow them to expand their programs. For example, the Civil Legal Clinic has been set up like an actual law firm,
said Desiree Hensley, director of the legal clinic and assistant professor of law.
Gershon has high expectations for the school’s future in the new building.
“The law school has a bright future because of the students, staff, faculty and alumni,” he said. “The new building gives them a better learning and working environment. It also gives the members of the law school community an opportunity to create new programs, using the building’s leading edge technology. That technology includes enhanced distance education capabilities, which can be used to interact with students, lawyers and judges from around the world.”
For more information on the School of Law, go to http://law.olemiss.edu/