Great Things Newsletter

Law school renovations under way

UDM Law Atrium
The new atrium of the UDM School of Law is designed to look like an outdoor space.

The classic exterior of the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law will be balanced by a spacious and functional interior as the landmark Dowling Hall at 651 E. Jefferson on UDM's Riverfront Campus undergoes a significant renovation.

This winter, offices, classrooms and meeting rooms on the upper floors will be reconfigured. Classrooms will be painted and have new carpeting installed, along with upgraded lighting and new furnishings. Modern heat pumps designed for educational institutions will be installed in classrooms for quiet delivery of heating and cooling, along with energy savings.

New smart podiums in the classrooms will enable faculty to project images and documents from the Web, TV, Internet and computers.  New study rooms will be constructed in the library with new carpeting and lighting throughout the area.

In the coming months, the first floor will be renovated with offices of the Registrar, financial aid, student services, and admissions and academic support consolidated into one central area inside the main entrance door.  Career services will be located nearby with flexible rooms for interviews or study.   All corridors will be upgraded with new flooring, paint and lighting.  The grand staircase will be restored to its prior elegance.

"Relocating and repurposing spaces will increase the quality and quantity of classrooms while improving student life and administrative functions," said School of Law Dean Lloyd Semple. The renovations are being done in phases to minimize the impact on students and keep the school open during construction.

In fall 2010, the atrium had work done to improve acoustics and create a courtyard appearance with flower boxes and awnings on windows, new furniture, a skyline photo of Detroit, and plants.

Last summer, the cafeteria was remodeled to resemble a coffee house/café for students to eat, meet and study. The first-floor room now has a slate floor and new serving line with a salad bar. In addition to traditional tables and chairs, leather chairs with foldout trays flank newly installed windows on the Larned side. With multiple electrical outlets and improved overhead lighting, this enhanced area provides a work/study space for students, faculty and visitors.

The majority of the renovations are being funded by bonds and fundraising. The School of Law plans to raise the additional $2.5 million needed to compete the project through appeals to alumni and friends.

A portion of the funds will be used for a facility to house legal clinics, which are currently located at a nearby site. The clinics are part of the School of Law's mission to give back to the community while educating future lawyers by working one-on-one with clients who can't afford legal counsel.

These facility improvements will meet the emerging needs of current and future students and faculty as part of the Centennial Project to prepare for the next 100 years. Full renovations should be completed by October 2012, when the school celebrates its 100th anniversary. Naming opportunities are available.

For more information, contact: Ginger Hrtanek, Assistant Dean for Development at 313-596-0274 or

For more information about UDM, or to apply online, go to

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