A Message from the Dean
Dear Alumni and Friends,
Cornell Law School has a longstanding history of intellectual quality in the classroom and colloquia and on the printed page. I have heard time and again from alumni who describe their time in Myron Taylor Hall as intellectually transformative. According to a forthcoming law review article, Cornell’s faculty ranks in the top ten in the country for scholarly impact. In the past year, our faculty members have received numerous accolades for their work—many you will read about in this issue. To see these recognitions span the breadth of their influence in teaching, mentorship, and scholarship is inspiring.
Scholarship and teaching are often regarded as conflicting duties in a faculty member’s job description. Daily, professors must choose between another hour of prep for class or another paragraph for an article. But far from conflicting, over an academic year, much less a career, the writing and teaching tasks are mutually reinforcing. Our faculty accolades in teaching, mentoring, and scholarship reveal this symbiosis at work.
The best legal scholarship comes from academia, as distinct from think tanks and policy institutes. Why is that, given that think-tank researchers are employed full-time, while at least half of the law professor’s time is devoted to teaching? The answer, I believe, is that teaching and research are mutually reinforcing activities when the students are as bright and engaged, and faculty members are as dedicated to both pursuits, as they are at Cornell Law School. Faculty can try out new ideas and concepts in the classroom and conduct research with students who bring a fresh perspective. In this way, the student/teacher relationship is mutually beneficial. Our faculty members are diverse in backgrounds, beliefs, and expertise, but they all share a relentless commitment to knowledge sharing that transcends ideology and rejects insularity. Throughout the academy, scholars are constantly challenging one another, as well as their students, and over time, the best ideas stick.
In this issue of the Cornell Law Forum, we take a look back at our history as a way to look forward with greater clarity and purpose. This past summer began with an announcement and groundbreaking, both of which will have a profound impact on Cornell Law School in the years to come. During June Reunion, the Law School announced the largest single gift commitment in our history and we broke ground on the first expansion and renovation of Myron Taylor Hall in twenty-five years. This fall, we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Legal Information Institute (LII), co-founded by Peter Martin and Tom Bruce. In this issue, we explore those first twenty years of the LII, as well as 125 years of legal study at Cornell—from Morrill Hall through Boardman to Myron Taylor Hall, Hughes, Jane Foster, and the current building project.
If you’ve visited the Law School in the past few months, you will have seen the transformation of the Purcell Courtyard into a full-blown construction site. The shell of the new state-of-the-art wing is taking shape, and we are working hard to keep distractions and noise to a minimum. I am pleased to report that, as of early October, the project remains on schedule. I encourage you to track our progress. We have a camera installed near the top of the Peace Tower overlooking the site, and we will have a time-lapse movie running on our website throughout the project. I want to thank all of our students, faculty, and staff for bearing with us during the construction and renovation. The end reward will be well worth the effort!
Finally, I want to thank our alumni for all they have done to make this year the best fundraising year in our history. The $25 million anonymous gift certainly helped bring us to “best ever” status, but we also have $6.5 million in other gifts, including $1.8 million in current use funds and more than 1,860 donors, showing an increasing level of participation in our Annual Fund. We are also seeing more alumni come forward to volunteer their time and talent for our various activities, programs, and projects, including Reunion, the Clarke Business Law Institute, and Career Services. Your time, talent, and treasure are greatly appreciated, and I wish you all success for the coming year.
Stewart J. Schwab
The Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law
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