Texas Law Celebrates Dee J. Kelly with Dedication of New Courtyard

Texas Law celebrated the legacy of the late Dee J. Kelly, Sr. with a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony of the newly renovated courtyard on Oct. 6. The Dee J. Kelly Courtyard was generously funded in his memory by his children Cynthia Kelly Barnes, Dee J. Kelly, Jr. ’85 and Craig L. Kelly on behalf of Dee J. Kelly Foundation.

Dee J. Kelly Courtyard Dedication, from left: Craig L. Kelly, Cynthia Kelly Barnes, Dean Ward Farnsworth, and Dee J. Kelly, Jr. ’85

Dean Ward Farnsworth welcomed the Kelly family and friends in the new outdoor space. “This project was really transformative. It took an unused, empty courtyard and created a beautiful addition to the school that creates a wonderful sense of community,” Dean Farnsworth said. “On behalf of the students, faculty and friends, we thank you for this lasting tribute to Dee Kelly, who was such a good friend and supporter of our Law School. We are all so happy with this space.”

Dee Kelly, Jr. said he loves how special and inviting the courtyard is. “Dad would have loved it.”

The Courtyard and its adjoining Patman Family Plaza serve as a new entrance to the school on East Dean Keeton Street. The two areas are distinct spaces that were designed to enhance each other. Liz Hilton ’90, Alumni Relations and Development Director said, “The new Courtyard and Plaza are beautiful, engaging, functional spaces in the heart of the student experience.”

Students and faculty have been enjoying the new area every day. So far this year, the courtyard has already been the site of a great variety of gatherings—from class social events with coffee and doughnuts, to Wellness Week chair massages and therapy dog visits, to daily study groups and lunches.

A plaque on display details Kelly’s impact:

Dee J. Kelly was a giant in the Texas legal community. Originally from Bonham, Texas, he clerked for the legendary Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn before becoming a prominent Fort Worth attorney and founding member of the Kelly Hart & Hallman firm. He was a force of nature in law and politics who garnered the esteem and friendship of business leaders, state officials, governors, members of Congress, and United States presidents. He was a champion of the practice of law and of excellence in legal education. He served with great distinction for over three decades as a member of the University of Texas Law School Foundation Board of Trustees (1982-2015). He is the father and grandfather, respectively, of two graduates of our Law School, Dee J. Kelly, Jr. ’85 and Ben F. Barnes ’11.

The renovations were designed by BGK Architects to be an engaging and peaceful gathering space that fosters collaboration any time of day. View their daytime versus nighttime photos on Instagram.