Chancellor and Dean David Faigman on the Groundbreaking at 198 McAllister Street


I want to thank the dignitaries who have joined us today to mark this celebratory occasion.

Today, we do not simply say hello to the spectacular new building that will sit on this site in the future, but also say goodbye to a stalwart of our campus—indeed, the building that was our campus for 35 years—Snodgrass Hall.

The front part of this building was dedicated in 1953 by then Dean David Ellington Snodgrass, who served from 1940 until 1963 and had this building named for him.

If you do the math, there have been around 30,000 law students who have trembled, sweated, swore, and prayed for good grades in this building over its 67 years of operation. When I meet with alumni from the classes of 1953 through 2020, they inevitably have stories of their experiences in this building. In psychology, when someone experiences a particularly memorable time, often, but not always, associated with suffering some trauma, the memory that results is called “episodic memory.” Through such memories, people are usually able to associate particular details, such as how they felt, the time and place, and other particulars. It is not completely understood why we remember certain instances in our life while others go unrecorded in our episodic memories. It is believed that emotion plays a key role in our formation of episodic memories.

I can safely conjecture that virtually all of those 30,000 law students experienced the strong emotions that produced memories of this place that will last their lifetimes.

While many of those memories are undoubtedly of their classmates, which often led to lifelong friendships, many also come from the professors from whom they learned how to “think like lawyers.”

UC Hastings, of course, has long been known for having had the 65 Club, most of whom taught in this building. 20th Century giants such as William Prosser taught Torts here; Richard Powell and Stefan Reisenfeld taught Real Property here; Jerome Hall and Rollin Perkins taught Criminal Law here; and Bill Lockhart and Ray Forrester taught Constitutional Law here. Other particularly prominent members of this club included Roger J. Traynor and Raymond L. Sullivan from the California Supreme Court, as well as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg.

Indeed, in the mid-1950s, Newsweek published a story where then Harvard Law School Dean and jurist Roscoe Pound declared, referring to UC Hastings: “Indeed, on the whole, I am inclined to think you have the strongest law faculty in the nation.”

This tradition of faculty excellence continues today, with nationally and internationally recognized scholars on the faculty, such as Joan Williams, Scott Dodson, Robin Feldman, Chimene Keitner, Rick Marcus, and, well, I need to stop there, because I will have about 50 additional faculty that will be upset with me for not mentioning them here.

While we are taking down the concrete and steel of this old building, its soul continues uninterrupted. That soul is attributable to the ongoing tradition of academic excellence, and a dedication to the ideals of fairness and justice. At its founding in 1878, it was said that “This College shall stand as long as government and civilized society shall stand. It shall be a monument, not of granite, wood, or marble, not a house made with hands, but a temple of law and intellect.”

This building we break ground on today furthers that intention.

The building that will replace it will help usher UC Hastings into the next stage of its history. This is the Academic Village, of which 198 is a central component. This is the Academic Village, of which our partnerships are an essential part of our identity, especially including the greatest health sciences university in the world, the University of California San Francisco. This is the Academic Village, which is part and parcel of the neighborhood and the City in which we are located. And this is the Academic Village, which will give us the wherewithal to attract additional University of California campuses to join us in defining law and policy for the future.

Thank you to the many, many dozens of people that have made this day possible. The UC Hastings community is a remarkable group of people, and we have many friends and partners as we look to define the future now.

– Dean and Chancellor David Faigman