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The Meaning of Commonwealth

The Law School is proud to bear the name of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It is symbolic and descriptive of the mission and the ties of the Law School to the government of Pennsylvania.  We are reminded of our identity and the key role the school and its alumni play in Pennsylvania each time we see the iconic fourteen foot statue of Commonwealth on the top of the rotunda of the capitol building. 

Beyond its meaning as a way to define political territory or a union of states, the word commonwealth has a much deeper connotation and meaning for the law school.  Sir Thomas Smith in 1583 wrote that “a common wealth is called a society or common doing of a multitude of free men collected together and united by common accord and coveanauntes among themselves, for the conservation of themselves as well in peace as in warre.”  In an exhaustive study of the word’s meaning, the Early Modern Research Group noted that it became an important concept “to mean a form of polity that enabled the pursuit of the common good and interest of the people.”

As the Law School enters into its 26th year teaching law in the State Capital and its first inaugural year as Widener University Commonwealth Law School, the term “Commonwealth” will continue to guide the Law School.  The commonwealth of the Law School will continue to be a place where faculty, staff, alumni and students all join together for the common good of each other and for the common good of Pennsylvania and the United States. 

"Commonwealth can also be defined as coming together for the common good. At our law school, our faculty and staff join together in the common good in providing our students with the best possible legal education and experiences."
Christian Johnson, Inaugural Dean and Professor of Law