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ASU Seeks Regents Funding to Move Law School to Phoenix

By Anne Ryman for The Arizona Republic

ASU President Michael Crow said officials are weighing whether a new, downtown Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law would make financial sense. Crow said the university will move forward only if officials have a “high confidence” the project will succeed. “Otherwise, we’re not going to do it,” Crow said Wednesday.

As ASU contemplates raising law-school enrollment, many schools are moving in the opposite direction, shrinking incoming classes as the economy has made it difficult for law-school graduates to get jobs and repay student loans.

As a planning step, ASU officials September 25th will ask the Arizona Board of Regents to approve a three-year capital-improvement plan that includes $129 million toward construction of a 294,000-square-foot law school in downtown Phoenix. The complex would be built on a parking lot that formerly was the site of a Ramada Inn, at Taylor and First streets.

No timetable has been set, although the plan presented to regents outlines five proposed ASU projects for fiscal 2014, including the law school. Other projects include renovating Hayden Library, upgrading labs and other improvements.

Even if the regents OK the plan, university officials could decide to postpone or cancel the project. Once construction began on the law school, it would likely take 30 months to complete, said Rich Stanley, ASU senior vice president and university planner.

Proposed plans for the school include classrooms, an auditorium, offices, a 230-space parking structure, a law library and retail space. ASU also wants to host more continuing-education programs for attorneys.

If ASU’s law school moves downtown, it would be the latest in a growing list of academic programs that have relocated since the Phoenix campus opened in 2006. Nearly 10,000 students are enrolled in the downtown campus this fall, up from 3,000 the first year. Among the programs there are journalism and nursing.

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