BRISTOL, R.I., November 1, 2017 – The Roger Williams University School of Law has dedicated a classroom to the law school’s founding dean, Professor Anthony J. Santoro, who served as president of the entire university from 1993-2000.

More than 100 faculty, alumni and current students turned out for the ceremony on Friday evening, Oct. 27, to see Classroom 262 renamed for Santoro.

“Put simply, no one has done more for this law school than Tony Santoro,” RWU Law Dean Michael J. Yelnosky told attendees. “And dedicating that classroom in his honor – the classroom where he used to teach tax [law] to a full house at 8:30 in the morning – seems like the least we can do.”

A Georgetown Law graduate, Santoro was the founding dean of RWU Law (1992-1993), and is a president emeritus of Roger Williams University (1993-2000). He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the law school in 2016.

Santoro’s association with Roger Williams began in 1990, when he was tapped to conduct a feasibility study for establishing a law school in Rhode Island. By that time, Santoro had already been instrumental in establishing two others: the University of Bridgeport School of Law (now Quinnipiac) and Western New England College School of Law. In addition, as dean of the Widener University School of Law, he had engineered a major expansion from Delaware into Pennsylvania. Santoro also knew the lay of the land locally: he’s a native of Melrose, Mass., and former resident of Fall River, Mass., and his wife Pauline – with whom he has four children – is a native Rhode Islander.

Santoro’s study concluded that “a law school would enhance the legal culture of Rhode Island and provide opportunities for research and continuing legal education which are not now available in this state.” When he was later appointed as the school’s first dean, he lobbied hard for a dedicated physical facility and almost singlehandedly recruited the entire founding faculty. By opening day, he was the president of Roger Williams University.

More than two decades later, Santoro remained a highly popular teacher and is the namesake of the yearly Professor Anthony J. Santoro Business Law Lecture, the school’s first entirely alumni-endowed lecture series. As the Roger Williams Law Review noted in 2014, “His long tenure here suggests that the last law school established by Dean Santoro was arguably his finest, and the state-of-the-art facility he envisioned some 20 years ago stands as a testament to his efforts.”

During his remarks at the dedication, Dean Yelnosky pointed out just how pervasive the law school’s reach has become, with successful alumni practicing across the country, law students clerking at the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and in dozens of other courts, and finalists in the latest installment of the school’s annual Esther Clark Moot Court Competition having just recently argued before all the justices of the Rhode Island Supreme Court in their breathtaking Providence chambers.

“Look at where his [Santoro’s] law school is today,” Yelnosky said. “This is a remarkable community that Tony has created. He had a vision, he had the talent, and he had the energy to make this happen.”

RWU President Donald J. Farish agreed. “In starting the law school, Tony changed the trajectory for this University,” he said, noting the addition of the law school in large part precipitated the school’s 1993 expansion from Roger Williams College to Roger Williams University. “Presidents leave behind tangible legacies. The work that Tony Santoro did created a strong foundation for this University.”

Fellow founding faculty member Louise Ellen Teitz said, “Tony created a Roger Williams family.” She then addressed Santoro directly, saying, “The apple seeds you planted have grown.”

Santoro thanked the faculty, alumni and students, in turn, for having “been so instrumental in my having the best time of my life during these last 25 years – especially the last few as a faculty member. I really enjoyed that classroom and I am so thrilled to have [it] named after me. Thank you all.”

Prior to the dedication and reception, RWU Law hosted its annual Anthony J. Santoro Business Law Lecture – this year titled “Business Lawyering: The Skill of a Lifetime,” featuring a panel of RWU Law alumni whose careers were profoundly shaped by Santoro’s teaching and mentorship.