Dear Alumni and Friends,
I am pleased to report very good news. The Law School has increased the size of its campus by 4.2 acres. The land consists of the property on which the 2000 Building sits, as well as surrounding land for parking and open space.
The purchase of the land is the culmination of 4.5 years of work attempting to resolve University Heights Association's (UHA) and the Law School's dispute with the Marty and Dorothy Silverman Foundation.
Acquisition of the property gives to the Law School control of one of its most important resources and the court's decision provides vindication that the Law School has acted appropriately throughout its dealings with UHA and the Silverman Foundation.
Given the interest in the matter, I thought I might provide a bit of background about that dispute. There were two issues with the Silverman Foundation. First, there was the loan to UHA to purchase the 30-plus acres that constitutes the UHA campus. Second, there was the land lease between UHA and the Law School for the property on which the Law School's 2000 Building sits. The Law School's lease contained a provision that allowed the Law School to purchase the property on which the 2000 Building sits.
UHA is a separate not-for-profit established by Marty Silverman. After establishing UHA, Marty negotiated the purchase of the 20 acres and then loaned UHA the money to buy the property. The Law School had and has no liability for the loan used by UHA to purchase the property. The lease to the Law School was a separate, but obviously related, matter. It was UHA's inability to repay the loan that led it to file for reorganization in bankruptcy court late last year.
The lease has been the critical issue for the Law School. If the lease was valid, it did not matter whether UHA filed for bankruptcy. The lease would survive the bankruptcy and any new owner would take the property subject to the lease, including the purchase option. Despite the Silverman Foundation's position, I was confident that the lease, entered into before I became dean, was valid. My confidence stemmed from the fact that Marty was present at two UHA Board meetings where the lease was approved, and that his representative on the UHA Board voted to approve the lease. More importantly, the lease was also approved by both the New York Attorney General and the New York Supreme Court.
The Law School worked diligently over the last 4.5 years to settle the matter short of court. Recently the Bankruptcy Court ruled that the lease was valid. In addition to ruling that the lease was valid, the court ordered that the Law School could exercise its option to purchase the property. The Law School has now exercised that option and purchased the 4-plus acres.
Despite the Law School's disagreement with Marty and his foundation, we should keep in mind that the court's decision means that the vision Marty had 10 years ago will continue. The creation of UHA has allowed the Law School to achieve notable improvements, while benefiting the surrounding community and the Capital Region. The UHA campus remains a lasting testament to Marty's vision.
Thomas F. GuernseyPresident and Dean