As church bells in the distance announced the twelve o’clock hour today, students, faculty and members of the Dayton community gathered behind Keller Hall to recognize the late Dean Francis J. Conte.
Conte, an avid lover of traveling and gardening, was the dean of the law school from 1987 to 2001 and a professor of law from 2001 until his death in 2011.
The ceremony, a groundbreaking on the future site of the garden honoring Conte, opened with an address by Richard Perna, the associate dean for academic affairs.
“Keller Hall is a physical reminder of Fran’s vision of excellence for the School of Law,” Perna said, gesturing to the brick building in front of him.
Gardening was Conte’s favorite metaphor when writing about the School of Law. The garden to be planted on the east lawn of Keller Hall, said Perna, is a tribute to Conte’s life and accomplishments as dean and faculty member.
Following Perna’s address was a blessing of the plot of land, a reading of a prayer written by his namesake St. Francis of Assisi and remarks of the dean’s legacy.
The garden will be completed in spring 2012 and the School hopes it will be a place where students can come and remember the Conte’s accomplishments.