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Dean's Message

Dean's Message (copy)

On August 30, 2011, the Law School welcomed the 246 members of the Class of 2014 to their first day at the Law School. We also welcomed 31 transfer students, 2 visiting students, 23 international exchange students, 49 LL.M. students from 21 countries (our largest LL.M. class ever), and 12 Humphrey Fellows from around the world.

The J.D. candidates who make up the Class of 2014 come from 35 states and the District of Columbia, as well as from seven foreign countries: Canada, China, India, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Men and women are almost equally represented among class members, who range in age from 20 to 47 (average 25). They completed their undergraduate degrees at 150 different institutions and speak a total of 25 languages. Twenty-eight of them have advanced degrees.

On the numbers, it’s the strongest entering class ever admitted to the Law School. The median LSAT for the class is at the 94th percentile nationally, and the median GPA is 3.8. But the class also brings a wide range of backgrounds and talents not reflected on their transcripts. At least 12 members of the class have served in AmeriCorps, two in the Peace Corps, and two in Teach for America. Many have lived abroad. One performed in President Obama’s inaugural parade; another already holds a patent on a biochemical device. One founded a nonprofit organization to help at-risk youth; another is an ESPN Academic All-American soccer player. One was a ship captain; another worked as the editor-in-chief of a newspaper; and yet another was a flutist at Juilliard. They have all brought new energy and enthusiasm to Mondale Hall.

The class of 2014 will find an innovative and challenging curriculum, aimed at giving them the best possible preparation for the challenges they will face when they graduate. We’ve added a variety of new courses, a new Environmental and Energy Law Concentration, new capstone courses and other experiential learning opportunities, and new clinics, making our clinical program, with 24 clinics, one of the largest in the country.

Unfortunately, the cost of legal education continues to climb, even as state support disappears. To ensure that we can continue to attract the best students, provide them an outstanding legal education, and make it affordable, we have launched the GENERATIONS campaign. The campaign focuses on student scholarships, funds for faculty hiring and curricular innovations, and core support that will enable us to respond quickly to emerging opportunities.

The era in which we could rely on the State of Minnesota for funding has passed. Like a number of other top public law schools, the University of Minnesota Law School is adapting to today’s reality by moving to financial self-sufficiency.

A common misconception is that this change means the "privatization" of the Law School. In fact, all it means is that one of our three traditional revenue streams, state funding, is disappearing; our other two revenue streams, tuition and philanthropy, are growing. This shift in the source of our funding does not in any way change our relationship with the University of Minnesota.

We will continue to benefit from multidisciplinary resources available through collaboration with other colleges at the University. We remain subject to the oversight of the Board of Regents, the President of the University, and the Provost. We pay for, and benefit from, centrally supplied services on the same terms as other units in the University. Tenure and promotion decisions must still be approved by the Provost and the Regents. All University rules and regulations continue to apply to the Law School. Financial self-sufficiency will only ensure, and enhance, the strong educational program that has made us one of the top law schools in the country.

Our GENERATIONS campaign is more than halfway to its $70 million goal and is gaining momentum. We are confident that we will secure the resources we need to build on the legacy of past generations. The Law School has adapted to many changes over its 123-year history. But our commitment to excellence in legal education and to training future leaders who will address complex challenges in Minnesota and around the world remains the same.

We have many lectures and symposia planned this year, including today’s Lockhart Lecture featuring Dame Hazel Genn, Dean of Law, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, and co-director of the University College London Judicial Institute. You can find other upcoming events in this newsletter.

We hope you’ll take advantage of these events and the events for alumni listed in the alumni section of this newsletter.

All best wishes for the new academic year.

David Wippman
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law