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UNT unaccredited law school to buy Dallas building where Lee Oswald was shot

UNT unaccredited law school to buy Dallas building where Lee Oswald was shot

October 19
15:35 2016

UNT Dallas is paying the city of Dallas $1 for the city’s former municipal building with plans to house UNT’s law school there. But the building will cost $56 million to renovate, and UNT’s law school is still not accredited, officials said.

The university has been negotiating the deal with the city for the last 10 years, Law School Chancellor Lee Jackson said. The city of Dallas is donating the building, the land it sits on and $16 million worth of restorative work.

“We believe the location is ideal for a public law school because of the many courts and law firms in the downtown Dallas area,” Jackson said in an email.

After a decade of planning and gaining the state’s approval to issue $56 million in bonds, UNT is finally able to acquire the building, Jackson said. The long-term bonds will be issued by UNT but the state of Texas will reimburse the debt and interest.

The city of Dallas has already invested $16 million into restoring the building’s exterior walls, stabilizing the structure and demolishing of the interior of the building.

Renovation of the inside is set to begin January 2017 by UNT’s architects. The goal is to modernize the inside so that it can function as a 21st-century law school while keeping its old charm. James Maguire, vice chancellor of the law school, will oversee the architectural changes made to the interior of the building, but he could not be reached for comment.

The building, at 106 South Harwood Street, was erected in 1914 and was home to Dallas’ city government for over 60 years. The building gained fame when Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and jailed there after assassinating President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Two days later, Jack Ruby shot Oswald while he was being lead out of the municipal building.

With millions of dollars being poured into the new law building, UNT hopes it will be able to acquire the accreditation needed from the American Bar Association to graduate students that can go on to be lawyers.

“We believe in this law school and it’s mission,” UNT Dallas President Bob Mong said. “We’re hopeful that the school will get accredited before our first graduating class in May. If not we will have to petition the Texas Supreme Court so that students can take the bar exam.”

The university will appear in front of the accreditation committee on Oct. 22 in hopes that they have now fulfilled all the requirements. But Mong said it is not uncommon for new law schools to not get accredited on their first try.

Though Mong remains hopeful accreditation will be granted this time around, Jackson said the process could take years.

“The UNT Dallas College of Law accreditation process will go on for several years,” Jackson said. “We will continue to enroll students and teach and graduate them and believe we will be accredited in the not-too-distant future.”

Mong said that the university would continue to apply for accreditation until it is granted. The law school is set to move into the building by fall of 2019 shortly after the remodel is complete.

“It’s very likely that provisional accreditation will have been granted by that time,” Jackson said.

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Tiffany Ditto

Tiffany Ditto

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1 Comment

  1. GK
    GK October 22, 18:16

    Why would anyone attend an unaccredited law school unless it is free?

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