The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

The Northerner

Proposal would move Chase College of Law, UK Medical School to Covington

Chase College of Law’s current facility on the Highland Heights campus, Nunn Hall, is being renovated.
Nunn Hall, home of Chase College of Law, is currently being renovated. (Killian Baarlaer)

The Kentucky Senate released a draft of the 2024-2026 biennial budget that would include $150 million to build a new facility in Covington for Chase College of Law and the NKU Campus of UK’s College of Medicine  to relocate to. 

This announcement comes as Chase Law’s current facility, Nunn Hall, is under a $9.6 million renovation that will fix heaving floors, replace dated building systems and eventually replace the building’s current courtroom. 

The new campus would be called the Commonwealth Center for Biomedical Excellence and is planned to occupy a riverfront plot formerly home to an IRS building

Why move the schools to Covington?

In a statement to The Northerner, Chase College of Law Dean Judith Daar said, “We are very grateful to Senator [Chris] McDaniel for his support of our program of legal education and its proven capacity to uplift the lives of our students and the people they serve. Positioning Chase in a brand new state-of-the-art facility with easy access to courts, firms and businesses will be transformational for our entire community.”

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer, who is a Chase Law alumnus, attended the college back when it was located in Covington from 1972 to 1982. He said bringing the college back to Covington has floated around for a while. 

“The idea of bringing Chase back to Covington has been discussed in a variety of formats over the last 10 or 15 years,” said Meyer.

Proponents of the project say the move would situate the law school in the thick of several courts that would be conducive to legal education. The new location would place Chase Law in proximity to 25 of Greater Cincinnati’s largest law firms and five federal and state courthouses, according to a press release announcing the budget allotment.  

“That’s really great for access to the courts for the students. Tremendous access to all the major law firms in the area. I think virtually all of them are within two miles of the downtown location, which means stronger internship and clerkship opportunities and work opportunities,” said Meyer. 

The move would enable the medical school to increase its annual class size from 35 students to 42. Ultimately, the campus would bring nearly 600 graduate students, faculty and staff, the press release says.

What needs to happen for this to come to fruition?

The Kentucky Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, led by Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ryland Heights in Kenton County, released the budget draft containing funds for the Covington development earlier in March

The House announced their budget draft in February, which did not include money for the Covington project. The two chambers must agree on a finalized budget and send it to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk by April 15. 

Meyer expressed confidence that the money for the Covington campus will be included in the final budget.

Why the renovations at Chase Law’s current facility?

Nunn Hall is closed for classes this semester as it undergoes renovations and maintenance work that includes upgrading the building’s HVAC system and replacing its restrooms. The building’s first floor is also being worked on to address shale deposits under the building that expand when wet, which cause uneven floor surfaces and pose a structural threat to the building. 

The renovations are expected to be completed by the fall of 2024. 

When the first floor is finished, it will feature study rooms, interview rooms, conferencing space, common areas and a 100-seat courtroom, according to the college’s website. The first-floor courtroom will replace the facility’s current courtroom on the fourth floor. 

Board of Regents records indicate that the repairs to the HVAC system, bathrooms and first floor cost $9.6 million.

As of now, $100,000 from the law school’s budget has been allocated to commission a design for the courtroom, which “will allow for development of a firm cost estimate,” the document says. 

A fundraiser is underway to fund construction of the new courtroom. “Work will not proceed until necessary funds are on deposit,” the document continues. 

Our repairs and improvements in Nunn Hall proceed because they address necessary and urgent safety features of this 1972 building, while providing our students with a welcoming learning environment while the Covington project moves forward over the next several years. The current repairs and improvements will benefit Chase students in the near term and the next NKU occupants of Nunn Hall at some point in the future,” Daar wrote to The Northerner. 

About Chase College of Law 

In the 2023 academic year, the college enrolled 126 students and has a total enrollment of 367 students, according to the school’s website. It was founded in 1893 and merged with NKU in 1972.