By ASHLEY COLLIS-BURGESS
Cornell Law School honored outgoing Dean Prof. Stewart J. Schwab — who will depart the University at the end of the academic year — during a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of a new wing at the school.
Schwab — who has held his position as dean of the law school since 2004 — will be succeeded by Eduardo Peñalver ’94.
Prof. Barbara J. Holden-Smith, law, said Schwab was responsible for the renovations of the law school’s classroom wing, office and program facilities — which she said had been “needed for a while.”
“It was due to Stewart’s vision, leadership and tireless efforts that this building project has come to fruition,” she said. “The need for new space had been obvious for years before [Schwab] became dean, but he made sure that it actually happened.”
Barbara said she was “fortunate” to work with Schwab in the administration of the law school, in what she said she considered a partnership.
“While of course change has its virtues, I personally will miss Stewart’s guidance as a dean, his leadership, his good humor and his humility,” she said.
Prof. Kevin Clermont, law, said he was saddened to hear of Dean Schwab’s departure but added that he is appreciative of the legacy Schwab will leave behind.
“[His legacy is] not quite [that of] Versailles of Louis the Fourteenth, but it is darn nice,” he said. “I’d like to think of Stewart as our own sun king.”
Schwab planned and saw the execution of the construction of the new Law School wing, which integrates the courtyards and fosters a sense of community, according to Clermont.
“This construction was his vision — he prioritized and recognized the need for new space and explored the very diverse alternatives precisely such as taking over Annabel Taylor or constructing a new building,” Clermont said.
Schwab said he is thankful for his years on faculty and as dean through his interactions with students, faculty, alumni and others who contributed to his experience.
“Cornell Law students are hardworking,” he said. “They take their classes seriously, but they also do so much more outside of class. Our faculty is hard-working and collegiate.”
Schwab said a “great” building has the power to create connections and foster the activity that occurs within the law school. He added that the building can act as a metaphor for all that encompasses “being in the school.”
“The hallmarks of our new East Wing are its openness, clarity and accessibility,” he said. “These are metaphors for the law and what we aspire for in the law school.”
Schwab said he is confident that the school is in a better place than it was 10 years ago and will only continue to improve in the future.
Kimberly Michaels, a landscape architect for the project, said the ceremony was “beautifully done” and that she is excited for students to have greater access to the courtyard from the architects’ contributions.
“I think it was really appropriate that they combined it with a tribute to Dean Schwab,” she said. “We think that the students would use the courtyard more and have a better experience here because of it.”
Prof. Valerie Hans, law, who is also on the building committee, said she was “really happy” with the work done on the law school.
“We’re so happy with the new addition,” she said. “I got a chance to teach this semester in one of the classrooms and it was a fantastic experience.”