South Carolina's Flagship University

A History of the University of South Carolina School of Law

A Time Line

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The 19th Century


The School of Law is established as one of ten academic schools, when South Carolina College is converted into the University of South Carolina. The Board of Trustees elects Alexander Cheves Haskell to the professorship of law. The Law School opens on October 7, 1867. The first two graduates are Arthur C. Moore and John T. Sloan, Jr., who receive Bachelor of Laws degrees on June 29, 1868. Haskell resigns the law professorship in November and returns to private practice. The Law School closes for the remainder of the academic year.


Cyrus David Melton is elected to the professorship of law at the July 12, 1869 Board of Trusteesí Meeting. The Law School reopens. The University of South Carolina integrates in the Fall of 1873. The Law School admits its first African American students. On June 30, 1874, Walter Raleigh Jones earns the distinction of being the first African American graduate of the Law School.


Professor Melton dies on December 4, 1875. Franklin J. Moses, Sr., Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, is chosen as Meltonís successor. Moses dies on March 6, 1877. The Law School ceases to function. The University is closed on June 7, 1877, by a joint resolution of the South Carolina General Assembly. The Reconstruction-Era Law School graduates thirty-nine students between 1868 and 1876. Eleven of these graduates are African American.


The Law School is reestablished as part of the reorganized University of South Carolina, open to whites only. Joseph Daniel Pope is chosen professor of the Law School.

The 20th Century


Professor Pope is elected Professor Emeritus and Dean of the Law School. M. Herndon Moore is elected adjunct professor of law. Professor Moore introduces the South Carolina Code of Laws to the curriculum.


Adjunct Professor Moore is elected full professor of law and John P. Thomas, Jr., is elected a professor of law, enlarging the law faculty to three.


Professor Pope dies on March 21, 1908, at the age of 81. Professor Moore is elected Dean of the Law School and James Nelson Frierson is elected to fill the vacancy left by Pope's death. Under the direction of Dean Moore, requirements for entrance to the Law School are raised and students are required to remain in Law School for the full two years.


Dean Moore dies on March 1, 1910. Professor Thomas is elected Dean of the Law School. E. Marion Rucker is elected to a full professorship.


Claudia James Sullivan graduates from the Law School, earning the distinction of being its first female graduate.


In 1917 the General Assembly appropriates $40,000 for the erection of a Law School building on campus. Competitive designs are submitted to the building committee by a number of architects. The new building, named Petigru College in honor of James L. Petigru, is occupied on January 1, 1919.


Dean Thomas resigns in 1920, when his requests for improvements to the law school, in order to gain admission to the Association of American Law Schools, are rebuffed by the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees chooses Professor James Nelson Frierson to replace Thomas as dean of the law school. In the fall, the Board of Trustees reconsiders and adopts many of the measures Thomas requested, including the three year course of study. The case method is adopted as the method of instruction.


In December, the law school is admitted to membership in the Association of American Law Schools at the annual meeting. The law faculty is increased to six.


The law school is placed on the approved list by the American Bar Association.


Due to a substantial reduction in the appropriation for the maintenance of the University, the teaching force in the Law School is reduced to five, necessitating the elimination of certain substantive law courses and the loss of the services of Professor William H. Wicker. With the beginning of the first semester, the Law Library is headed by its first trained librarian, Mary Ophelia Strickland.


Upon the retirement of James Nelson Frierson, Anderson attorney Samuel Lander Prince is chosen Dean of the Law School.


The General Assembly appropriates funds for the building of a new Law School building in 1948, with the stipulation that it be completed by September 1949. The new Law School is dedicated in April 1950. When the Petigru name is transferred to the new building, the old law school building is renamed Currell College. Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court Arthur T. Vanderbilt is the featured speaker at the April dedication of the new Petigru College.


Upon the retirement of Samuel Lander Prince, Charleston attorney Robert McCormick Figg, Jr., is chosen Dean of the Law School.


The Law School is integrated in 1964. In June 1967, Jasper Cureton earns the distinction of being the first African American graduate of the Law School since Reconstruction.


Professor Robert W. Foster is chosen Dean of the Law School, after the resignation of Dean Figg.


The new University of South Carolina Law Center is dedicated on May 4, 1974. Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, is the featured speaker.


Dean Foster resigns and returns to teaching. Professor Harry J. Haynsworth, IV, serves as Acting Dean of the Law School, while the Law School searches for a new dean.


Professor Richard E. Day is selected Dean of the Law School.


Dean Day resigns and returns to teaching. Professor Harry McKinley Lightsey, Jr., is chosen Dean of the Law School.


Dean Lightsey resigns. Professor Charles H. Randall, Jr., serves as Acting Dean of the Law School, until a permanent successor is chosen.


Professor John E. Montgomery is selected Dean of the Law School.

The 21st Century


Dean Montgomery resigns and returns to teaching. Attorney Francis P. Mood serves as Interim Dean of the Law School, while the search for a permanent replacement is conducted.


Burnele Venable Powell, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, is selected Dean of the Law School.


Dean Powell resigns in January and returns to teaching. Associate Dean Philip T. Lacy serves as Acting Dean, until a permanent replacement is chosen. Later in the year, Notre Dame University Law Professor Walter F. Pratt, Jr., is chosen Dean of the Law School.


Dean Pratt resigns in June and returns to teaching. Robert M. Wilcox is chosen Dean of the Law School.

The 19th
The 20th
The 21st