The San Joaquin College of Law

From the archives

When several Fresno-area judges and attorneys decided to establish a law school in Fresno in 1969, they lacked a campus, so San Joaquin College of Law went in search of facilities. Conversations between Judge (and SJCL dean) Dan B. Eymann and Pacific College President Arthur J. Wiebe, Ed.D., led to an agreement on January 8, 1970, allowing SJCL to lease classroom space on the PC campus. 

Law school classes began in the fall of 1970 with 59 students, and enrollment increased steadily over the next few years. While the space provided by Pacific was adequate for classrooms, SJCL was hampered by a lack of offices and a dedicated law library. To address this, SJCL offered to help finance construction of an addition to the east end of Hiebert Library. Construction began in September 1972 and was completed the following year.

While the library addition helped alleviate SJCL’s space needs, it did not completely solve them. As early as 1974, SJCL proposed a new law school building on the PC campus, but Pacific was unwilling to give up so much of its limited acreage. SJCL made similar overtures over the next few years, including construction along Willow Avenue (where the FPU track and soccer field now stand) or purchasing land on Peach Avenue owned by Pacific.

By 1979, however, Pacific had decided to again enlarge Hiebert Library and noted continued classroom use by SJCL hampered development
of new academic programs. SJCL, meanwhile, was negotiating to acquire a new campus site. For those reasons, Pacific notified SJCL it would terminate its lease on June 30, 1980. Construction on the Hiebert Library addition began in fall 1979, and SJCL opened on Shields Avenue in 1980, moving to Clovis in 1996. The Hiebert Library project was completed about the same time, and the former law school library and offices became the Mennonite Library and Archives.