’96 law school graduate revisits campus, sees change in progress

Bailey Vandiver

“Let’s go in the law school,” my mom said to me after my official campus tour was over.

We had just seen all the major locations on campus: Willy T, the brand new dining hall The 90, Whitehall and more.

My mom’s impression of campus was, first, that the dorms were way too nice—she wanted me to have to “rough it” a little bit in college, like she did living in dorms without Tempur-Pedic mattresses, once upon a time.

Her second thought was that so much had changed since her time here, which was her freshman year of undergraduate in 1989-90, and law school from 1993-1996.

When we walked into the Law Building, though, she had a different reaction.

“It hadn’t changed at all,” she said.

She pointed out all the things that were just as she remembered—the lockers, the feeling of being back in high school because all classes were in that one building and the “dirty” and “clean” lounges in the basement.

The clean lounge is for studying, she explained, but the dirty lounge was for eating lunch, playing ping pong and, my mom’s personal favorite, playing foosball.

Finally, she did notice a change: The foosball table was in a slightly different spot within the dirty lounge.

She said the building was already old when she was there; it was built in 1965.

There have been rumors over the years of future renovations, but nothing ever came of them. My mom said she thinks she remembers getting letters to alumni about a possible new building.

Now, more than 20 years later, it’s the Law Building’s turn for a makeover. The groundbreaking for the expansion and renovation was held Sept. 7.

President Eli Capilouto made a statement at the groundbreaking. He said buildings across campus are being adapted to a 21st century living and learning experience.

“It is dramatic. It is intentional. It is necessary for us to truly serve our faculty, staff, students and the citizens of the Commonwealth,” Capilouto said. “The new College of Law Building is an important piece of our transformation.”

Construction on the Law Building has already begun. Law students are instead having their classes in nearby buildings, like the Gatton College of Business and Economics and the seminary building, said my cousin, Kelly Ball.

She is a first-year law student who chose UK partly because she wants to practice law in Lexington.

She said she did not know about the planned renovations of the Law Building before she decided on UK. Once she found out, her biggest concern was not having a central location to study on campus.

“I am hoping to be in the new law building during my 3L year,” she said. “I am excited for the new building and hope my class will get to spend our last year there, or at least our last semester.”

The Law Building is expected to be finished in fall of 2019.

If the foosball table doesn’t find its way back to the renovated building, I know one alumna who will be pretty upset.