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$25M gift will restore
dorm life to Law School

Football players aren't the only Yalies who are moving back on campus. Five years from now, Yale Law students will again have a chance to live in dormitories, thanks to a $25 million donation.

The "extraordinary gift" from Robert C. Baker ’56, ’59 LLB, and his wife, Christina, will allow the Law School to acquire 100 Tower Parkway—across the street from the Law School's back door—and "to return residential life to generations of Yale Law School students,” Dean Robert Post ’77JD says in a press release.

It will also give the first official name to the four-story building known as the "swing space," used by successive waves of undergraduates while their residential colleges were being renovated since the late 1990s. One such student wrote in 1999 that her predecessors had nicknamed the swing space Boyd Hall: "As in 'Boy’d we get [treated unfairly].'” As of 2018, it will become the Robert C. and Christina Baker Hall at Yale Law School.

The Sterling Law Building on Wall Street opened in 1931 with 219 dormitory beds, according to the school's website. By 2001—amid a growing demand for office space for faculty, student organizations, and programs—that number had dropped to 56. There were just 23 beds in 2007, the last year the Law School offered on-campus housing.

But "Yale Law School believes that the option of residential living is important because it humanizes and enriches legal education," the website says. So with the Bakers' $25 million, the school will take over the debt for 100 Tower Parkway and renovate it into "furnished two-bedroom suites with en suite bathrooms, galley kitchens, and shared community areas."

The Law School already uses part of the 137,000-square-foot building for fourth-floor offices and seminar rooms. Those uses will continue.

Robert Baker, founder and CEO of the National Realty & Development Corp. commercial real estate empire, knows a deal when he sees one.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Yale Law School to acquire from the university a facility which is only one block away from the Sterling Law Building,” he says. “I hope my gift will inspire other alumni who appreciate the importance of residential living to the student experience to support this project.”

Filed under Law School, Robert Baker, construction
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