UF Law School to Honor O’Connell, Supreme Court Justices
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida Levin College of Law officials announced plans here today to dedicate space in the to-be-expanded Legal Information Center to honor the late Justice Stephen C. O’Connell and other Florida Supreme Court justices who are UF alumni.
Mrs. Cynthia O’Connell, widow of Stephen and a member of the UF Board of Trustees, is spearheading efforts to raise up to $500,000 in pledges by the end of December to fund a large reading room in the law library. The end-of-the-year date is essential to college officials requesting state matching funds during the 2003 legislative session.
Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Raymond Ehrlich of Tallahassee, UF law ‘42, and Warren Cason of Tampa , UF law ‘50, are co-chairs of the fund-raising campaign.
“We want to honor Justice O’Connell for his distinguished service to the university,
state and the Supreme Court,” said law Dean Jon Mills, “and also pay tribute through displays, photographs and memorabilia to all our other grads who served on the Court.”
A native of West Palm Beach, O’Connell was the sixth president of the university, 1967-73, and the first alumnus of UF to serve in that capacity. He was a college athlete, World War II veteran, attorney, Catholic layman, banker, rancher and justice and chief justice of the state’s highest court. O’Connell died in April, 2001, at 85.
Sixteen other UF law grads have served or are serving on the state Supreme Court, with 15 of the 17 also having served as chief justice – including Harry Lee Anstead and Charles T. Wells, current and immediate past chief justices, respectively.
Mills said the O’Connell Supreme Court Reading Room will be one of the largest areas in the expanded law library and serve as a primary place of study and as a faculty and alumni event facility. Groundbreaking on the library expansion is set for April 2003.
Cynthia O’Connell reports that approximately half of the $500,000 goal already has
been raised, with contributions ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.
“This special reading room and area is a concept to share Stephen’s love for the law, love for UF, and to share that with students as they progress through law school,” she said. “After he left the UF presidency, he willingly served as a mentor to all age groups, giving advice when asked and sharing his stories for more than 30 years. He would be most pleased with these plans.”
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