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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Alums and faculty establish pre-law
intellectual home at URI

KINGSTON, R.I.-December 3, 1998 -- There's a world of difference between the perception of law and the practice of it. To help URI undergraduate students considering careers in law and related graduate careers, accomplished URI alumni, and URI faculty members, including former governor Bruce Sundlun, are helping to create a Pre-Law Intellectual Home on the second floor of Washburn Hall, one of the granite buildings on the Kingston quadrangle.

The "home" will give students of any major a place to meet other students with similar interests. The students will be able to interact informally with alumni and faculty to discuss both the theoretical aspects of jurisprudence and the realities of a law career.

The goal of the project is to raise $100,000 in private donations. So far, more than $51,000 has been raised. The money will be used to renovate and redesign three rooms in Washburn: Room 208 will become an updated classroom. The reconfigured area will feature a modular classroom so that different configurations can be used for collaborative learning, as well as for seminar instruction. State-of-the-art electronic equipment, a pre-law advising center, and a library of resources related to law schools, the legal profession, and law and public policy research are also part of the plan. Room 215 will be converted into a comfortable lounge and Room 216 will be a site for meetings and conferences while Room 216A will be used for computer services. Construction is expected to begin in 2000.

Each year about 120 URI graduates enter law schools, according to URI political scientist and attorney Larry Rothstein who donated to the "home." While most students planning a law career study political science at URI, more and more students graduate with degrees in management, pharmacy, and marine affairs, says Rothstein. The new "home" will centralize pre-law advising.

There are rapid changes in the law, says Rothstein. The new equipment will be able to take actual cases, bills, statutes, and regulations that are available from the internet, often the same day they are issued and project them onto a large screen so that faculty and students can discuss those changes instantaneously.

While many universities employ modern technology for instruction, Rothstein says URI's new 'home" combines state-of -the art equipment with career advising and alumni involvement. "It's a great package."

"It's a great idea," says attorney Bruce Wolpert '75 of Wolpert & Gerstenblatt, Inc. who eagerly contributed to the project. The east side of Providence resident says he was lucky. He always knew he wanted to be a lawyer. "It's not an easy decision for many students, especially nowadays. This will give them the chance to see if law is what they really want."

Wolpert says people who donated to the University in the past indirectly helped him with opportunities while he was in school. "I wanted to give something back to the students. This is something that's needed."

Bruce Kleinman '75 who is a partner in Brach, Eichler, Rosenberg, Silver, Bernstein, Hammer & Gladstone in Roseland, N.J. agrees. He wants to ensure that URI students with academic strength get exposed to positive influences and shoot for top professions.

Yet law is not for everyone, concedes Kleinman who has lectured on the Kingston campus. "The pace is so much faster than it was 20 years ago when I graduated." Kleinman and his wife Ava, also an attorney, jointly donated money to the URI "home." Ava's gift was matched by her employer, AT&T. "We both feel strongly about this home. It will help students make their decisions on a more informed basis."

Another husband and wife team who donated to the "home" is District Court Judge Stephen and Bonnie Erickson of Barrington who met as undergraduates. "Both Bonnie and I feel a strong sense of responsibility toward URI. Between us we have three degrees from the University. I earned my bachelor's degree and Bonnie earned her bachelor's, MBA, and master's of accounting from the University." The Erickson's gift includes a 2:1 match by Bonnie's employer, Textron.

Dr. Gerry Tyler, chair of the Political Science Department, also donated to the project. "Having the latest technology and an updated classroom is crucial to preparing all of our students for future careers. It creates a positive atmosphere for interaction between URI's committed and generous alumni and students."

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For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116

 

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