By Shawntaye Hopkins
The University of Kentucky College of Law is pleased to announce a $1 million gift from Stites & Harbison, PLLC to support current and future UK Law students as well as the major rebuild of the now-completed Law Building. The second-floor Main Commons, a prime collaboration area in the center of the building, will be named for Stites & Harbison in recognition of the gift.
“Through the support of Stites & Harbison, the College of Law is well on its way to providing the 21st century legal educational experience that the next generation of law students requires,” said UK Law Interim Dean Mary Davis, Ashland-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law. “The increased opportunity for faculty and student interaction, the collaboration spaces, and the enhanced classrooms all create an exciting educational environment for our students, faculty and staff. We are grateful for the generosity of Stites & Harbison for helping make it possible.”
Stites & Harbison has a long history of supporting UK Law through endowed scholarships and professorships. In addition, the firm encourages personnel in its 10 offices to hold leadership roles in civic and charitable organizations in their communities, which mirrors UK Law’s mission to prepare students to become attorneys who serve the country and Commonwealth of Kentucky and contribute to the advancement of justice. In 2017 and 2018, Stites & Harbison provided more than 11,000 hours of pro bono work to various organizations and individuals.
“It’s of paramount importance to us to give back and support the College of Law’s endeavors,” said Bob Connolly, chairman of the firm. “Our success directly correlates with the success of the University of Kentucky and the College of Law. Both generate impressive graduates for us as well as ancillary businesses that need sophisticated legal services. Both the university and the College of Law enrich the lives of so many in Kentucky, and we want to support those efforts.”
The Main Commons is adjacent to Common Grounds coffee shop and includes seating areas designed to enhance collaboration among law students, faculty and staff. The space is surrounded by classrooms, faculty offices and student lockers, and it is often drenched in sunlight from the expansive second-floor center skylight.
“The firm is proud to support the College of Law in a substantial way,” Connolly said. “As an institution, we place a great value on learning. Current and future law students will benefit from the renovation of this incredible building. One visit to the Law Building and you will definitely see the benefit for current and future law students. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that will provide an excellent 21st century learning and teaching environment for students and the faculty.”
This important gift upholds Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, UK's historic $2.1 billion campaign with goals that include attracting the sharpest minds to the university and equipping students to be productive contributors to the state and nation.
“While the legal industry continues to change with technological advancements, clients still deserve the best and brightest attorneys. This gift will provide an even stronger platform to the University of Kentucky College of Law, its professors and graduates. These proud graduates will represent UK College of Law well in careers around the world,” Connolly said. “Their professional accomplishments and international impact will be a positive reflection on all of us.”
UK and UK Law alumnus Steve Ruschell, a member of Stites & Harbison's Business and Real Estate Service Groups, encouraged the firm and its individual College of Law graduates to invest in UK Law and the future of the legal profession.
“The University of Kentucky and the College of Law have given more to me over the years than I could ever give back to either entity,” Ruschell said. “When approached about helping, I didn’t give it a second thought. I knew the value that this major expansion and rebuild would bring to the College of Law and the university.”
Ruschell, also a longstanding member of the College of Law’s Visiting Committee, said the Law Building construction project is an example of what can be accomplished when a public university partners with private donors to create something special for sophisticated learning.
“We value education, and placing an emphasis on a creative and technologically advanced facility that is like new will only improve the caliber of student who graduates from the College of Law,” Ruschell said. “If you walk through the building, you see inviting communal study areas, state-of-the-art classrooms, a new grand courtroom for appellate and trial-level training, and a much-needed second smaller courtroom with an adjoining jury room to prepare students in litigation training and alternative dispute resolution.”
Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign is a comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs. Already halfway to its $2.1 billion goal, Kentucky Can’s impact can be felt across campus. More than 130,000 donors have contributed to the campaign, making education more accessible for students and helping the university achieve record-high graduation, retention and enrollment rates.