The Catholic University of America
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The ribbon-cutting that officially opened the Columbus School of Law on Oct. 1, 1994, marked two significant milestones. It was the first dedicated and permanent home for the law school, which had occupied several locations during nearly a century of existence. And its beauty, design, amenities, and state-of-the-art classrooms raised the architectural bar for law schools nationwide, several of which closely copied the layout of Catholic University’s law school. 

Twenty years later to the day, the law school community gratefully celebrated two decades in its magnificent home with a cake and champagne event in the building’s atrium.
Displaying a letter of congratulations from President Bill Clinton that acknowledged the building’s dedication, Dean Daniel F. Attridge (below, center) reminded today’s students—most of whom were young children in 1994—of some of the cultural touchstones of that time, such as the trial of O.J. Simpson. He drew chuckles by brandishing a student newspaper from 1994 that trumpeted the excited headline: Law School to Get E-mail!
The following speaker was Professor Emeritus and former Dean Ralph. J. Rohner, (below, right) Class of 1963, who deserves primary credit for the existence of the law school building. During the early 1990s, Rohner did the lion’s share of the fundraising necessary to build it, also overseeing its construction and design along with a faculty building committee. Today’s law school is often referred to as “The House that Ralph Built,” and the building’s fourth floor is named in his honor.
The “Columbus” in the law school’s name comes from its 1954 merger with the former law school of the Knights of Columbus. It is not named, as academic buildings often are, after its biggest donor, a fact that Rohner wryly noted.
“We still have a law school without a name. Opportunities abound”! Rohner joked.
The final speaker on the program was Jeffrey R. Moreland (at left) Class of 1970, vice chairman of the Board of Directors for Amtrak and former chairman of CUA Law’s Board of Visitors.
Even as it appreciated its past, Moreland urged the law school community to focus on the future and continue make expanding the funds available for scholarships its top priority.
In closing, Dean Attridge said “We are particularly grateful to all those who worked so hard to make this building project a reality 20 years ago and to all those who have kept the dream alive during the past 20 years. We, as a community, are forever in your debt.”
The 20th anniversary celebration drew three new letters of congratulations: from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington; Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus; and John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America.