Groundbreaking ceremony for new School of Law building

Thank you Dean Wilcox. Good morning everyone! Let me add my enthusiastic welcome to this new beginning.

Chairman Warr, Councilwoman Devine, Chief Justice Toal and Sen. Graham, I know, for you, like many, it felt like this day would never come. Our Board of Trustees deserves special recognition as they have been unrelenting in their commitment to a stately yet contemporary home for this school — one that matches the momentum that we can see and feel taking place inside the law school every day. (Thanks, Rob.)

It's true. The law school’s momentum now mirrors the broader momentum sweeping our university. We are experiencing, at USC, perhaps our best days in modern history in spite of our pressured economy.  

We now have 47 nationally ranked programs — the highest in our history. Each year, undergraduate applications are received at an all-time high. And more importantly, our graduates are having great success in facing the future. It's a fact that 90% of our graduating seniors say they would do it all over again. (In fact, too many don’t want to leave!)

Tomorrow, we'll feel the momentum of our Carolina spirit when we have another ESPN Gameday on the Horseshoe. (There will be no sleep for Patricia and me tonight!)

The law school's future success is based both on its present momentum and its rich history. It had humble beginnings. Opening 147 years ago on Oct. 7, 1867, it was one of the first law schools in the nation. It was led by a 27-year-old attorney named Alexander Haskell, who was named dean, and had exactly four students to educate.

In 1869, Richard Greener, the first African-American graduate of Harvard, became the first African-American faculty member. In 1918, Claudia James Sullivan became the first female graduate.

Over the years, our School of Law graduates have provided the legal backbone of the state — in every domain: in the private sector, in the nonprofit sector, in the courts and in government. Many of the state's leaders were prepared, here, for public life – many governors, members of the House of Representatives, state senators, agency heads, mayors, councilmen and women, as well as many members representing us in Congress.

Did you know that, today, every member of the South Carolina Supreme Court is a USC School of Law graduate?

Our graduates have also served in many other high-ranking posts such as our special guest, U.S. Ambassador David Wilkens, who served as our ambassador to Canada after having served us so ably as speaker of the House.

In fact, I would not be overly bold if I said that no college within the university is likely to have had a greater impact on the Palmetto State than our School of Law.

To add one more feather in our cap, this summer, William C. Hubbard (class of 1977) became the president of the American Bar Association. William, we are so proud of you and wish you well in your year of leadership.

Over the years, the School of Law has had six different buildings serve as its headquarters. Our new complex is inspired by the architecture of Robert Mills, one of America’s first homegrown architects. A friend of Thomas Jefferson, Mills was only 21 when he submitted a design for Rutledge College (1802), our first building. 

Our new state of the art structure will anchor a new legal corridor in South Carolina and project a modern, sophisticated image that will match our great expectations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the rule of law is one of the great pillars of civilization. The work that will be accomplished here will impact the quality of life for men, women and children in South Carolina, and I hope throughout the world, for generations to come. 

We hail thee Carolina. We hail thee School of Law.

Now let's break some new ground!