Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Marks Official Opening of New Public Service Wing
Web Editor - Published: September 24, 2009
ribboncutting1“The roots of clinical education lie in the notion that law students belong on the frontlines. The clinics provide hands-on, practical experience,” declared Dean Linda L. Ammons at the ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil the new public service wing at Widener Law’s Delaware campus on Monday, Sept. 21. The newly renovated 10,000 square-foot-space houses the five Delaware-based clinical programs, Widener’s Public Interest Resource Center, the Legal Help Link call center, and the Delaware Volunteer Legal Services offices.

The ceremony opened with an introduction from the Director of Clinical Programs Nathaniel Nichols, who introduced Dean Ammons and credited her with having the vision to undertake the project. In her remarks, Dean Ammons thanked library staff whose offices were moved to make way for the new clinic space and the Longwood Foundation for providing funding. She also acknowledged Widener University Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Jo Allen, the members of Widener Law’s National Advisory Council in attendance, and Teresa Mason, Chief of Staff to Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden.

Citing the amazing work done by the clinics, Dean Ammons noted that the clinics handled over 296 cases in calendar year 2008, equating to 17,000 hours of pro bono services worth more than $2.1 million when valued at $125 an hour. “We are proud of our legacy,” said Dean Ammons before introducing the featured speaker, Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

“Delaware, in my mind, is a state of neighbors,” said Governor Markell, adding, “This kind of public service is at the heart of what Delaware is all about.” He concluded his remarks by saying, “I am delighted on behalf of the state. We value Widener as a great partner, and this is a great step for Widener and a great step for Delaware.”

Following the Governor’s remarks, Dean Ammons introduced Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy Holland, a Widener Law adjunct professor and member of the Board of Overseers. “The theme of the day is public service,” declared Justice Holland, adding, “When you have a law degree, you have an obligation that transcends the accumulation of wealth.”

ribboncutting2LEI Student and Veteran’s Law Clinic volunteer Michael T. Urban spoke next, relating his experience as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne who was injured in a training accident and left the military at the age of 23. Veterans Affairs stripped him of his medical coverage two years later, and he ended up seeking help from the Veterans Law Clinic and Professor Tom Reed. Michael’s moving presentation generated a standing ovation from those in attendance. Nicholas Tyler, a Widener Law student serving in the Delaware Civil Law Clinic spoke about his experiences next, calling his clinic experience, “a valuable addition to my legal education.”

The last speaker, Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, reminisced about his time working with Delaware Volunteer Legal Services and the Delaware Civil Law Clinic. “What is great about this new wing is that it’s going to increase the capacity of these clinics to do what they do,” said the Lieutenant Governor. He concluded by stating, “I want to give Dean Ammons and the law school great credit. Law schools have a lot of priorities, and it says great things about the school that this was a priority.”

Following his remarks, Lieutenant Governor Denn joined Governor Markell, Dean Ammons, Provost Jo Allen, Director of Clinical Programs Nathaniel Nichols, Justice Holland, and Associate Professor Dana Harrington Conner to cut the red ribbon in front of the entrance to the new space. A wonderful reception followed, with those in attendance given the opportunity to wander the renovated wing and take a look at the facilities, including a classroom outfitted as a courtroom with the capacity to videoconference to any destination in high definition.