Windows of Memorial Union


An Ideal Opening

Ribbon cut on School of Law building this summer, welcoming first students

Dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new school of law building

(front row, center, left to right) Laura Kelly, governor, Kansas; JuliAnn Mazachek, president, Washburn University; and Shelly Buhler, chair, Washburn University board of regents; are joined by several donors and dignitaries as they cut the ribbon on July 21, 2023, at Robert J. Dole Hall.

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
By Dannie Harris-Cooper
Photos by Jeremy Wangler

Over the summer, the students, faculty, staff and alumni of Washburn University School of Law saw their dream of a new home become a reality. Robert J. Dole Hall was dedicated on July 21, 2023, after much anticipation and an extensive fundraising campaign that brought together more than 1,000 alumni and donors who contributed more than $14 million for the project.

“Years ago, a handful of us dreamed of the day we might be here, surrounded by Washburn Law friends and family, dedicating a brand-new, state-of-the-art law building,” said JuliAnn Mazachek, president, Washburn University. “We know great things sometimes take a long time and are worth waiting for. We are grateful for the dedicated work and persistent vision it took by so many to bring this dream to life for the future generations of law students.”

The facility is designed for the way legal education has evolved. Classrooms can be configured to accommodate the needs of individual classes, and there are many spaces for students to meet and work collaboratively. In addition, two courtrooms allow students to refine their practice skills. These upgrades will allow students to continue their education from anywhere they can access the internet, capitalizing on the Third Year Anywhere initiative that began in 2019. The program allows students to finish their third year of law school remotely, gaining experience in a location they plan to practice in after graduation. Classrooms include the technology to embrace this form of distance learning.

Teacher and students in School of Law classroom

(Jeff Jackson, bba ’89, jd ’92, interim dean, Washburn Law, teaches a class in Robert J. Dole Hall.)

Named after one of Washburn’s most noteworthy graduates, Sen. Robert Dole, the new home’s upgraded technology will be an asset to those who, like Dole, may face challenges on their educational journey. With an injury to his right shoulder during World War II, Dole, ba ’52, jd ’52, h ’69, h ’85, earned his law degree while teaching himself to write with his left hand. During that time, he would use a bulky device to record lectures and learn the material. Now, the ability to record lectures in the new facility will allow all students to revisit those lectures at any time.

Exterior view of Dole Plaza

Exterior view of sculpture at Dole Plaza

(Senator Robert J. Dole Plaza features a place for students to relax or for the School of Law to host outdoor events.)

The building also embraces the history of the Law School and the impact of Washburn attorneys. A four-part mural by artist Michael Toombs hangs prominently over the entryway staircase. The artwork, aptly titled “Non Nobis Solum, Not for Ourselves Alone,” highlights the role of Washburn lawyers in the landmark Brown v. Board case. Another nod to history is the light fixtures in the Michael C. Manning Trial Courtroom. The fixtures are replicas of the lights in the federal courtroom where the Brown v. Board case originated in Topeka.

“When Washburn University was founded as Lincoln College in 1865, it embraced a commitment toward education for all, regardless of gender or race,” said Jeff Jackson, bba ’89, jd ’92, interim dean, Washburn Law. “From Charles Scott (ba ’48, jd ’48), John Scott (ba ’42, jd ’47) and Charles Bledsoe, three Washburn lawyers who filed the Brown v. Board of Education case, to lawmakers such as Sen. Dole and Rep. Jim Slattery (ba ’70, jd ’75), who helped fight for and secure passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Congress, our alumni have been using the skills and knowledge gained at Washburn to ensure equal opportunity for all.”

Exterior photo of the new School of Law building

Several special guests joined the Washburn community for the opening of the building, including Sen. Roger Marshall, Sen. Jerry Moran, Gov. Laura Kelly and Dole's daughter, Robin Dole (photo gallery of the event). Notably missing was James Concannon, who died one month before the ribbon cutting. The 50-year impact of the former dean and professor will continue to be felt for generations of students and alumni, as evidenced by an anonymous donor who made the James Concannon Dean’s Suite in the new facility a reality. The University is also raising money to establish the deanship in honor of him. One of Concannon’s well-known phrases is positioned above the door as guests depart the suite, “Don’t think great thoughts. Read the statute.”

The gratitude toward alumni and friends who brought the new building to life cannot be understated. Their gifts will allow future generations of Washburn attorneys to succeed with a premier legal education that will last a lifetime.

“Today at last, the Washburn University School of Law has the home that it needs, that it deserves and that it has earned,” said Marshall Meek, president, Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation during the ribbon cutting event. “Thank you, all of you, for making today possible.”

The eagle sculpture with the sunset in the background

(Wings of Freedom, by Sandy Scott, was moved from its spot outside the previous School of Law building and now sits directly outside the entrance to Robert J. Dole Hall, the new home of the School of Law.)

Winter 2024 The Ichabod magazine cover with picture of the bell tower and snow fallen on campus

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. View the current and past editions


Please enter your username and password below. If you do not have a username and password, click "New user registration" to register.

New user registration
Forgotten password

1729 MacVicar Avenue
Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483