Giving to USD School of Law
My first year as dean of USD School of Law has been more challenging than I ever anticipated when I started this job last August. The precipitous decline in law school applications, the challenges of recruiting a strong 1L class and stemming the loss of our top students to other schools seeking to fill their 2L classes, and preparing for the loss of revenues and budgetary consequences from the “rightsizing” of the law school have sometimes made it difficult to remain focused on the vision of the stronger law school we are committed to building. What has sustained my enthusiasm and confidence throughout the year has been the repeated expressions of support from our alumni, above all your generous financial support.
This academic year, we will need your financial support more than ever. Reductions in the number of LSAT takers and decreased attendance at recruitment fairs indicate that law school applicants and applications are likely to continue to decrease and the competition to recruit and retain high quality law students will become even more intense. We were able to remain competitive this year thanks to the university’s continuous support of our financial aid budget and the restructuring and reallocating of our scholarship awards, as well as by fully utilizing the limited funds available from our endowment and alumni gifts for financial aid. Most notably, we were fortunate, given the need to offer extra enticements to recruit and retain students this year, to be able to draw on a pool of unspent endowment to award special scholarships to match the offers made by other law schools to 1Ls and to provide additional incentives for our top 2Ls to continue attending USD. While, unlike many other law schools, we did not exceed our financial aid budget this year, we have depleted the discretionary resources available for scholarships in future years.
To remain competitive, it is critical that we replenish our scholarship resources. For this reason, I am asking each of our alumni to make a gift to support scholarships. When pooled together, gifts of any size can make a considerable impact on the support we can offer our students. Only if we are able to raise significant new scholarship funding will we be able to continue to recruit and retain highly qualified students and advance toward our immediate goals of building our reputation, ranking and resources.
Despite the enrollment and budgetary challenges, we also need to continue to build our faculty, expand our curriculum and clinical programs and sustain the activities of our centers and institutes, all of which are critical to our being able to provide excellent legal training to our students. In 2011-12, we received grants to support the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism (from the Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation) and to launch a new Veterans Education Clinic (anonymous). Thanks to a generous multi-year gift from Tom and Gwen Price, we can now provide financial assistance for students attending the four new law school international exchange programs that we will be establishing this year in China, Argentina, Germany and Israel, as well as our existing program in Denmark. We will also be initiating the first Price Family Travel Seminars, enabling our faculty to design more specialized courses to prepare our students for the global legal marketplace. Plans are being finalized for us to initiate, in cooperation with Arizona State University (ASU), a new Washington, D.C. Externship Program in the spring of 2013, which will enable our students to receive a full semester’s academic credit while gaining valuable work experience and credentials from half-year internships in federal government agencies.These are notable achievements, at a time when many of our competitors are being forced to cut programs. But it is the stark reality of the current economic environment that, without outside funding, our existing programs cannot be sustained and new programs cannot be launched. To ease the burdens on our operating budget, we will need your support to provide additional funding for those centers and institutes—including the Center for Intellectual Property Law & Markets, the Center for Corporate and Securities Law and the Institute for Law and Religion—and to assist them in becoming self-supporting, as our Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) and Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) have now been for some time. Similarly, proposals to expand our 11 current client clinics and to establish new clinics in such areas as family law and entertainment and media law will require new funding. And although our planned cooperation with ASU will enable us to keep the launch costs relatively modest, I will be looking for your financial support to help cover the expenses of the faculty and students participating in our new Washington, D.C. Externship Program.
This brings me to the state of the law school’s teaching facilities. If you are in San Diego and can come by Warren Hall, I urge you to visit the newly refurbished Grace Courtroom, which, with university funding, has recently been transformed into an effective, technologically up-to-date classroom. We have a critical need to renovate more of our classrooms, to improve them acoustically and visually and to make them pedagogically more effective. Above all, we need a larger classroom that will hold at least the 150-160 students who want to take such popular classes as Corporations, Criminal Procedure and Introduction to Intellectual Property Law, as well as for public lectures and other law school events. The investment in such a classroom will enable us to teach more cost-effectively and efficiently, as well as better serve the needs and interests of our students in this increasingly competitive environment.
These are the three top funding priorities for which I will be seeking your contributions for 2012-13:
- Increased scholarship funding to recruit and retain highly qualified students and ensure greater access to legal education to capable students from all backgrounds;
- To support programs that are vitally important to preparing our students for their legal careers, including funding the expansion of our legal clinics, our various centers and institutes and new initiatives, such as the Washington, D.C. Externship Program; and
- Renovating our classroom facilities to incorporate the technology needed for effective teaching and learning and to give us greater flexibility in expanding and innovating our curriculum in a cost-effective manner.
I view each of these priorities as essential in advancing us towards our ambitious goals for the future of USD School of Law.
Thank you for your support and encouragement.
Stephen C. Ferruolo
Dean and Professor of Law