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Federal funds will help rebuild the library collection at the University of Houston Law Center, where devastating floods this summer washed away part of the state’s legal history. Officials on Nov. 26 announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has earmarked $21.4 million to help replace or repair thousands of books and more than 1 million microfiche that were destroyed or damaged at the O’Quinn Law Library when tropical storm Allison hit the Houston area. Twelve feet of water flowed into the library and turned thousands of items, including historical papers, into mush. Law Dean Nancy Rapoport hails the good news and says it will take a few years to rebuild the library collection. Among the damaged items were the Judge John R. Brown papers, which included the late 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals jurist’s Admiralty and Maritime Collection; the Foreign & International Law Collection; and collections of government documents, state statutes and recorders. The federal money covers 75 percent of the library restoration project, which will cost $1,204,600 for the microfiche collection and $27,295,196 for law book replacement. The remaining fourth will either be covered by the university’s insurance policy or come out of UH funds, Rapoport says. So far, 60 percent of the Brown papers have been restored, and the microfiche has been cleaned for 10 cents per fiche, much lower than the $1 per fiche replacement cost, the dean says. UH law graduate Don Hartsell, an expert in salvaging water-damaged materials, and his Houston-based company, Solex Environmental Systems, were called in after the floods to work on the restoration. Allison hit Harris County in June and dumped more than 3 feet of rain in the area leaving 20 dead and thousands homeless. At the University of Houston, more than 2 million gallons of water were pumped out of 90 buildings throughout the downtown campus. Water in the lower level of the law library was at least 8 feet deep. The law center opened as planned for fall classes. Classes scheduled for three ground-floor classrooms and library materials were moved to other places at the law school. Before the floods, the law center already had set up a wireless network so students could do research from any computer. The flooding prompted a requirement that all law students, beginning with the 2001 incoming class, have a laptop. INTERIM DEAN An interim dean is taking the helm of Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock. James R. Eissinger will take over on Jan. 1, 2002, a day after current Dean W. Frank Newton steps down after 16 years to become executive director of the Class Settlement Charity Foundation in Beaumont, Texas. Eissinger, an associate dean, has been on the law school’s faculty since 1972. The appointment was announced Dec. 3 by Texas Tech Provost John Burns, who has put together a committee to search for a new permanent law dean. Gary Bell, dean of the Honors College and an associate vice provost who is heading the committee, hopes to have a new dean selected in time to take over by Sept. 1. However, he adds, “The search will go on as long as it takes to get the right person.” About half of the committee consists of law school faculty members. Others serving on the committee include two representatives from the Lubbock, Texas, legal community, two university administrators and a liaison with the board of regents. Eissinger, who does not plan to apply for a permanent position as dean, earned his bachelor’s degree in 1960 from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, and his law degree in 1964 from the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where he participated in court martial proceedings as counsel and provided general legal assistance. He later worked at the North Dakota Office of the Attorney General as an attorney on its law enforcement council. He was a member of the law faculty of the University of North Dakota before coming to Texas Tech. Eissinger’s areas of teaching include labor law, constitutional law, discrimination in employment, constitutional torts and workers’ compensation.

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