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University of Utah College of Law Celebrates 100-Year History

Law students study in the original law library on the top floor of the Park Building. Circa 1950.

Sept. 16, 2013 – The University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law celebrates its 100th birthday Sept. 20 with a symposium at the law school followed by an evening gala at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The symposium will describe the college’s most influential scholarship from the past century, and the keynote speaker is former Utah law professor and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Michael McConnell, now on the faculty at Stanford Law School. The evening gala will host nearly 450 law school friends and alumni to commemorate the first century of the college and its future.

“We are immensely proud of the contributions made by the College of Law and its alumni during our first century, and it’s time to celebrate those achievements,” said Interim Dean Bob Adler. “As we look forward to the completion of our innovative new home in 2015, it’s only fitting that we also honor the people who have shaped the college and its legacy of excellence in legal education, service to the community and engaged scholarship.”

During the past 100 years, the College of Law evolved from graduating eight men from Utah in its inaugural class of 1913 to graduating 136 men and women from more than 35 states and countries in 2013. But the college has done more than grow in size and diversity; its rich history has been influenced by the victory of the suffrage movement, the Great Depression, World War II, advancing technology and more.

  • In 1914, the law school moved from borrowed space in the Salt Lake City and County Building to the newly completed Park Building. Frank Holman was the first dean of the school at just 27 years old. He held a degree from the U and two degrees from Oxford University, where he had been a Rhodes Scholar.
  • In 1924, the first female graduate of the U, Rebecca Garelick, was admitted to the Utah Bar. By the end of the 1920s, just three women had graduated from the school.
  • The fourth female graduate was Reva Bosone. She graduated in 1930 and went on to become the first woman elevated to the bench in Utah and, later, the first woman from Utah to be elected to Congress.
  • Enrollment among women soared more than 2,000 percent between 1964 and 1982.
  • In 1996, Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, visited as Jurist-in-Residence.
  • The college’s law library opened in 1914 with a handful of volumes. By 1963, that number had swelled to 70,000 volumes. Today, it has 210,000 print volumes, with access to tens of thousands of additional volumes electronically.
  • In 2001 the college was renamed the S.J. Quinney College of Law, in honor of S.J. “Joe” Quinney, a prominent local attorney, after it received a $26 million endowment from the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation.
  • In 2009 an accreditation report underscored the need for a better facility for the college.
  • In 2013, during the college’s centennial year, groundbreaking took place on a new, 155,000-square-foot facility, which is poised to expand the college’s commitment to community service, provide state-of-the art training and conference facilities and become a model for sustainable building. The building is scheduled to open in 2015.

“As a current student, it’s exciting to be here during the college’s 100th year,” said Jennifer Call. “I’m looking forward for the opportunity to join in honoring the college’s legacy at the gala. This is a wonderful school, and I truly feel honored to be a part of it.”

The symposium is in the College of Law’s Sutherland Moot Courtroom, from noon to 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. Call 801-585-3479 for more information or to RSVP. A limited number of tickets to the gala are available. Call 801-585-5500. More information can be found at