Past and future will blend together to set a new standard for legal education through a $1.5 million gift to create the Inasmuch Foundation Collaborative Learning Center in the OU College of Law.
Inasmuch Foundation’s gift will renovate 8,000 square feet of OU’s existing Donald E. Pray Law Library to provide four new multimedia rooms; movable whiteboard desks, stands and walls; dual-monitor stations; cooperative learning spaces for student collaboration; and a “genius station” staffed by information technology, library, and career services professionals.
“This remarkable gift will transform our library into a unique and special space that will allow our students to work more closely together and to use technology in a way that enhances their understanding of the law and their ability to communicate with others,” said OU College of Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr.
The Collaborative Learning Center will complement the library’s current Chapman Reading Room, which recalls OU law traditions through classic furnishings and fixtures. Statistics show that the reading room was used nearly 100,000 times during the 2014-15 academic year.
However, Harroz said, libraries are no longer just for quiet study. Today’s students need flexible, collaborative spaces for group work and to practice presentation skills.
In 2008, Inasmuch Foundation established four multimedia rooms in the law school. These conference room spaces feature flat-screen monitors, cameras, and video conferencing and are used to foster and record group exercises for moot court and client counseling. OU law students used the current multimedia rooms at least 4,000 times in 2014-15.
“Strengthening educational institutions is one of the primary goals of Inasmuch Foundation,” said board chairman William J. Ross. “We’re very excited to continue partnering with the OU College of Law as it prepares future attorneys to work in the digital age.”
Harroz said that law graduates must be prepared to research, annotate, organize and present in the digital medium. The OU College of Law was first in the nation to launch a “college-wide digital initiative,” which aims to maximize students’ competitive edge through technology. Each incoming OU law student is provided an iPad at no cost and students are obligated to attend extensive training sessions to ensure technological proficiency with the equipment.
“With Inasmuch Foundation’s gift, we are not only the first law school in the nation to have a college-wide digital initiative, but also the first to have such an important space dedicated to giving OU law students an advantage in the digital age,” Harroz added.