The study of law is a conversation, and the Brown Family Campus Center at UConn School of Law is an ideal place for that conversation to happen, Dean Timothy Fisher said at the dedication of the new café and gathering place on Oct. 18, 2017.
Student Gideon Asemnor ‘18 saw a multitude of conversations begin when the campus center opened at the start of the semester. It felt very different from his first year at the law school, when there was only a small cafeteria in the basement of Hosmer Hall and students seemed to disappear right after classes ended, he told the audience at the ceremony.
“Starting this semester, there’s been a tremendous change on campus,” he said. “You see students from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, LLMs, JDs, you see them sitting together at the tables, having lunch and discussing tort issues or whatever cold call they got that day,”
University President Susan Herbst opened the dedication ceremony with a thank you to the Brown family for generously funding the creation of the campus center in the slate foyer of the Thomas J. Meskill Law Library, facing the main quad. Joe Brown ’16 spoke on behalf of the family, welcoming the center as a place where students have already begun learning and sharing.
Before the ceremony, Joe’s father, Jay Brown, discussed the 2008 financial meltdown at a presentation in the Reading Room in William F. Starr Hall with UConn Law Professor James Kwak, author of Thirteen Bankers and Economism. Brown, the retired CEO of MBIA, remembered the most harrowing turns of the crisis and the measures that brought it under control.
The dedication ceremony followed, with a reception afterward in the new campus center featuring food catered by the university’s Dining Services team, which operates the café.
The café opened Aug. 28 to a steady flow of students, faculty and staff gathering for coffee, meals, conversations and study sessions. In September it served triple the number of customers served in the Hosmer cafeteria in September 2016, according to Retail Operations Manager Ethan Haggerty.
The café is open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, providing meals for Day and Evening Division students alike. The menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, snacks and baked goods.
Customers have been enthusiastic about the café and the rest of the campus center. First-year students Kileigh Nassau and Jesse Sahani sit there every day and refer to it as their “office.” Every friendship they’ve made has started there, they said.
Tyler Conklin ’18 said the center brings faculty and students together. “I have seen the dean here, and it really breaches the gap,” he said. “It fosters a sense of community on campus that did not exist before.”