Donation Will Return Dorms To Yale Law

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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A Yale alumnus who went on to make a fortune in real estate has given $25 million to Yale Law School to acquire and renovate a campus building and return dormitory living to the law school. The money was donated by Robert Baker, and the new building will be named after Baker and his wife, Christina.

"This is an extraordinary gift," Yale Law School Dean Robert Post said in a statement. "Christina and Robert Baker's generosity will enable us to return residential life to generations of Yale Law School students."

For years, dormitory living was part of student life at Yale Law. But today, the spaces once allocated to house students within the Sterling Law Building, which was completed in 1931, are used to house academic centers and clinics, faculty and support staff, and student organizations.

The new Robert C. and Christina Baker Hall at Yale Law School will reestablish residential life within steps of the Sterling Law Building.

Once renovated, four-story Baker Hall will be home to law students living in two-bedroom suites with bathrooms, galley kitchens and shared community areas. Residents will join the staffs of the China Law Center, the Information Society Project, and the Offices of Alumni Affairs and Development, who have occupied the building's fourth floor since 2011. Classes will also continue to meet in the building's seminar rooms.

Plans call for the law school to acquire the building from the university in 2018 and for renovations to begin the same year.

"Residential life was central to the Yale Law School experience up until a few years ago," said Peter Salovey, president of Yale University. "Robert Baker's commitment to making on-campus living once again possible for law students is generous and visionary, and will allow future generations to know the benefits of a community where living and learning are closely connected."

Robert Baker is the founder, chairman, and CEO of National Realty & Development Corp. NRDC owns 76 shopping centers in 16 states, as well as several office and industrial buildings. Baker is a major owner of a private equity group that purchased the Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay department store chains. Hudson's Bay recently bought Saks Fifth Avenue and now owns and operates roughly 200 department stores in North America.

A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law, Baker previously established the Nathan Baker Professorship of Law in honor of his father.

"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," Baker said in a statement. "I hope my gift will inspire other alumni who appreciate the importance of residential living to the student experience to support this project."•

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