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(1993-2005) Dean Nicholas P. Cafardi

Nicholas P. CafardiRather than moving down the hall, like many of his predecessors, the next dean moved across the street from Old Main. as the university’s general counsel, Nicholas P. Cafardi worked closely with President John Murray on the legal aspects of the University’s late 1980s turnaround. Prior to that, Cafardi had represented nonprofit organizations, including the Diocese of Pittsburgh and religious orders across the country.

Cafardi adopted a quotation from Cicero—Salus Populi Suprema Lex (“The welfare of the people is the highest law”)—as the School’s new motto. Outreach was increased, in keeping with the University’s mission statement’s call for “... service to the Church, the community, the nation and the world.” 

The school was thriving, but a familiar issue— lack of space—once again surfaced. In 1990— less than a decade after Hanley Hall opened— an ABA site visit team deemed the School’s physical plant inadequate. By 1998, with another accreditation review just two years away, nothing had been done to address the problem. Dean Cafardi approached President Murray, who understood the school’s plight but could not commit significant funds from a tight university budget. The Law School, Murray agreed, could have whatever it could afford to pay for.

This presented a formidable challenge, from which The 1911 Society was born. More than 80 alumni and friends signed on as charter members. All told, more than $12 million was raised.

On June 22, 2000, ground was broken for a 32,700-square-foot addition—the Dr. John E. Murray, Jr. Pavilion. Murray would soon step down after 12 years as university president, assuming the title of chancellor and returning to teaching full-time. His office would be located on the top floor of the structure that would bear his name. 

On Commencement Day, June 2, 2002, the Murray Pavilion was dedicated. Renovations were completed over the summer. A new Law School was ready for students returning in the fall.

During his deanship, Cafardi engaged in two important outside assignments. State Supreme Court Chief Justice John P. Flaherty appointed him to chair a commission on racial and gender bias in Pennsylvania courts. As that effort concluded, Cafardi was named by the nation’s bishops to a blue-ribbon panel of laymen tasked with independently reviewing the church’s response to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy.

Like Sciullo and Murray before him, Cafardi chose to step down from administrative duties in 2005. Following a sabbatical, he returned to the full-time faculty in the fall of 2006.