During Rudy Hasl's tenure as dean at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, he has helped build the school's test scores, job placement efforts and reputation.
Now he is helping the school build an actual building -- an eight-story, 177,000-square-foot facility in downtown San Diego's East Village. The final structural beam for the building was put in place Dec. 3, and officials are hoping it'll be ready for students by January 2011.
"We're really going through this fundamental transition by our relocation to the downtown area," Hasl said. "And I think the new building is going to be a wonderful platform on which to base our academic program."
Hasl said the building has been designed with classrooms and technology that are conducive to Thomas Jefferson's specific learning environment. School officials want to cultivate an interactive space where faculty can really engage with students.
"We can create a much better sense of community than we can now, being in three different buildings," he said. "What we've tried to do is create an environment where students can achieve their maximum potential in a supportive environment; one that is culturally and ethnically quite diverse, but in which the faculty really have a commitment to engage closely with students."
Hasl said the school's philosophy is to help students get the intellectual development, professional expertise and networks that will open up career opportunities.
The school employs two, full-time employees with Ph.D.s in psychology who have developed a program to assist students develop cognitive skills that will help them function effectively as professionals.
"It's all premised on an understanding of how the brain works, how an individual develops professional expertise and how one can accelerate the use of short-term memory to allow individual students to do professional work," Hasl said of the program led by Dennis Sukuzo and Nancy Johnson.
Thomas Jefferson has experienced a steady improvement in bar passage rates since Hasl joined the faculty as dean in 2005. And the diversity of the student body has increased as well. But much of the excitement now surrounds the school's pending campus.
"It's going to be an extraordinary building for San Diego," Hasl said. "I think our building is going to provide a significant addition to the San Diego landscape, architecturally. The interior space and artwork make it a 'must visit' place. This building is going to be truly transformative for the law school."