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Dean's Message

Dean's Message

A Season for Growing

As Samuel Taylor Coleridge put it, "summer has arrived with its usual severity," following a winter that would not end and a spring that would not begin. At the Law School, weather notwithstanding, the spring months were filled with special events, such as the three-day visit by former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, alumni weekend, the launch of our GENERATIONS campaign, and commencement of the class of 2011. You can read more about those events in this newsletter.

But the summer has brought with it what has become an annual budget challenge. Over the past few months, I have been traveling and meeting with many of our distinguished alumni. Some of them have asked, "Why is a new fund-raising campaign necessary?" The answer, in a nutshell, is the continuing sharp decline in state funding. The Minnesota legislature has recently proposed substantial new cuts. As a result, the Law School continues to move rapidly toward financial self-sufficiency, a path some other top public law schools have already traveled. Next year, we anticipate that state support will account for only 7% of the Law School’s total revenue.

GENERATIONS will support both today’s students and future generations. More than one-third of the campaign goal is allotted to provide additional student scholarships so we can continue to recruit an outstanding and diverse group of students.

Our students are exceptional in many ways. Eva Stensvad, for example (see the student section), is in Washington D.C. this week to receive a Burton Award for her article on the Vaccine Act, making the Law School one of only eight in the nation whose students have won six or more Burton awards. Approximately one-third of the class of 2011 volunteered 50 or more hours of public interest work while attending the Law School, and at commencement they announced one last act of service. As their parting gift to the Law School, over 25% of class members made a financial commitment to the Law School—a testament to their loyalty at a time when jobs are scarce and education is expensive.

These are the leaders of tomorrow. They will be the associates in your office, the advocates for human rights, the business leaders and public defenders, the legislators, the judges, the teachers of your children. Since 1888, the Law School has graduated students with an excellent legal education and a commitment to serve their communities. These are the kind of students and traditions our campaign intends to preserve and promote.

We’ll be back in the fall with news about another entering class of outstanding students. Have a good summer.

David Wippman
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law