This week, Harvard Law School unveiled its brand new Wasserstein Hall — a behemoth of a law building that will serve the needs of Harvard law students for generations, maybe even centuries. I was not invited to any of the gala events; my invitation must have been lost in the mail. But I can’t wait to see the finished product. Rumor has it that there’s a state-of-the-art debtor’s prison carved into the building’s foundation.
Obviously, a project of this magnitude required a major fundraising effort. Harvard has never been shy about naming things after big donors. Remember, the university itself is named after a guy who made one of the wisest donations of books ever. Wasserstein Hall contains the Caspersen Student Center, and enough commemorative plaques to fill a plaque store.
The building also contains the Falik Men’s Room.
No, I didn’t make that up. I’m not that clever. I’ve got pictures. I’ve even talked to the benefactor who made the gift….
First, pictures or it didn’t happen:
I mean, that’s funny. And it’s not an accident. Yesterday, I sent the weirdest email to William Falik, asking if he knew that he was the proud benefactor of an HLS men’s room.
Thankfully, Professor Falik — who made his fortune as a lawyer and real estate developer, and now teaches in these areas at Boalt Hall — can pronounce his own name. He has a great sense of humor, and he knew exactly what was going on. It turns out that the HLS bathroom isn’t the only men’s room he sponsored.
The Falik Men’s room is funny on its own, but Professor Falik’s story about how the gift came about is even better:
The naming has a curious history involving conversations I had with a now distinguished Supreme Court Justice — Elena Kagan.
After several meetings with then Dean Kagan, I created a public interest fellowship in honor of my father’s 100th birthday by donating $100k to Harvard Law School.
Although I have developed several new communities in California, with a name like “Falik,” there are limited naming opportunities. (Somehow “Falik Blvd” or “Falik Ave” does not cut it). [As the] piece in the SF Chronicle suggests, I thought the best use of my name would be to name a Gentleman’s Lounge (aka Men’s Room), when I made a large donation to the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Dean Kagan, who has a great sense of humor, liked the idea, but for reasons that I cannot articulate, the Falik Gentleman’s Lounge moniker did not get through the chain of command at HLS, so alas, it is now the Falik Men’s Room.
Brilliant. Hilarious. And all in the name in of a public interest fellowship and man’s father. This is going to be my favorite story of the year.
Sadly, Professor Falik told us that his father passed away recently at the age of 102. But he loved the Falik theme. And now, who knows how many future legal minds will enjoy (ahem) refreshment at the Falik facilities.