Cooley opens first phase of library expansion When completed, law library will nearly double in size

By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School opened the first phase of the $6 million expansion of its Lansing library with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, May 25. The newly opened expansion includes a study hall, accessible 24 hours a day by students, and a 43-seat student lounge. When completed, the expansion will fill the former Lansing Town Center building, a two-story structure between the Cooley Center and the Thomas E. Brennan Law Library on Capitol Avenue.

"We chose the name The Center for Research and Study for the library," said James Robb, vice president of development at Cooley, "because it is now a place where students can study in quiet surroundings, gather for group discussions, and socialize outside of class in the student lounge. A lot of the learning goes on outside the classroom. It's important that they be able to meet and exchange ideas."

"When we bought this building, it was a shell, a home of squirrels and even a raccoon. And I'm proud that we were able to bring this building back to life." Robb thanked the many donors that contributed to the Campaign for Knowledge that helped fund the building. "The lead gift from this campaign was from our graduate and former board member, G. Michael Stakias, of Philadelphia who gave us $1 million for this project. The second lead gift, $500,000, came from the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation of Midland."

"My goal for today is to say we are now officially open and the second phase will be done when Jim (Robb) gets more money," said Don LeDuc, Cooley's president and dean. The second phase of the project will complete renovation of the first floor with a space for additional legal texts and renovate much of the second floor with seating for approximately 429 students, including two 38-seat classrooms and many private study rooms.

Once the full renovation is completed, the Thomas E. Brennan Law Library will nearly double in size to 138,927 square feet, becoming the nation's second largest law school library in physical size.

"As all of you are aware, Cooley has done a lot of renovating in Lansing," said Le Duc. "We transformed the J.C. Penny building into the Brennan Library. When I came to Lansing in the mid-'60s this building was Knapp's department store and where we are standing was the home equipment department. The building held the circuit court and state offices at one time. This area has had a lot of use. We are proud to put the building back in service on this site."

"I will start with a quote from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities which I will paraphrase: 'students are the most important people on campus, not an interruption for our work but the purpose of it, without the students, there would be no need for a library," said Duane Strojny, associate dean of Library and Instructional Support and Professor. "The library serves as the heart of the campus in so many ways. What we are doing here is adding on to what we have in the Brennan facility."

The new library addition, called the Center for Research and Study, is connected to the existing Thomas E. Brennan Law Library, 330 S. Washington Square, located immediately to the east. The building is accessible from an entrance on Capitol Avenue and through the Brennan Law Library. The "connector," as it is called, bridges the alley that runs between the two buildings. Since it is a right of way for the Lansing Bureau of Water and Light, there are large garage doors on either side of the hallway that can be opened to accommodate access if needed.

"The expansion of the Thomas E. Brennan Law Library with the Center for Research and Study will form a crown jewel in downtown Lansing to be noted by legal libraries around the country," said LeDuc. "We're pleased that Cooley alumni and friends are stepping up so quickly to support this growth."

The project is funded, in part, by $3 million in donations from Cooley alumni and friends. It is the first-ever capital campaign in the school's history. Cooley is matching each donation.

Published: Thu, Jun 10, 2010