Giving to USD School of Law
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the University of San Diego School of Law. Since it opened as an unaccredited part-time evening school with 55 students in 1954, the law school has had to overcome many challenges. The fact that USD has not only survived these challenges, but has thrived and built its reach and reputation to surpass many law schools with longer histories and greater resources is a tribute to the impressive legacy built by the achievements, successes and generosity of our now nearly 14,000 alumni.
The challenges of the past three years have been as great as any in the history of our law school. After decades of growth, confronting a precipitous decrease in the national pool of law school applicants of nearly 50% since 2010, our enrollment has declined by more than 25%. During this challenging time, our priorities have focused on enhancing the quality of our students, the legal training we provide them and the guidance and support we offer them in pursuing their legal careers. Although the legal job placement market has recently shown encouraging signs of recovery, many prospective law students continue to be discouraged about the value proposition of pursuing a legal education. Competition for those qualified students who are interested in coming to law school has grown more intense as we find ourselves competing with a wider range of law schools for the students whom we want to bring to, or keep in, San Diego. Also, as many of you know from your own experience, scholarship funding has never been more crucial to the future of our profession, especially in ensuring greater access to legal education for students from less privileged backgrounds and underrepresented communities whom we need to attract to law school if we want to diversify our profession and ensure that there will be lawyers dedicated to serving the legal needs of all our communities.
Last year, thanks to the support of many of our alumni, we exceeded our goal for the Dean’s Scholarship Initiative by 13%, raising more than $565,000 (and compared to the $515,000 raised in 2013, when we launched the Initiative). In the past two years, this funding has had a major impact by increasing our yield of top-ranked 1Ls and enabling us to retain a higher proportion of our top-performing students who in previous years were more likely to transfer to other, higher-ranked law schools. To sustain these results, it is imperative that we exceed our $500,000 goal again this year in order to be able to award a similar number of the Alumni Honor Scholarships, Alumni Leadership Scholarships and Alumni Summer Legal Work Grants that this Initiative has funded.
I hope that all of you who contributed to the Dean’s Scholarship Initiative in the past will do so again. For those who wish to support our scholarship efforts and have the financial means, I am again asking you to consider funding a named scholarship in the annual amount of $5,000 for a worthy student to be chosen based on criteria that you designate. Last year, several new scholarships were funded by our alumni; they will soon have the opportunity to experience the same sense of satisfaction that my wife, Julie Robinson, and I have felt in sharing in the achievements of the recipients of our scholarship.
Increasing scholarship funding remains my top fundraising priority, as it remains essential to enabling us to recruit and retain highly qualified students and ensure greater access to legal education for capable students from all backgrounds. However, there are many other ways you can support the law school and designate your gifts to have a direct and meaningful impact on our law school. These include making donations to support:
- Our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), which provides grants to reduce the loan payments for those graduates who pursue careers in government or public interest;
- Our legal clinics and the establishment of an expanded legal services center and incubator;
- Our public interest centers and institutes, including the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL), Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI), Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC) and Center for Education and Policy Law;
- Our business practices and policy centers, including the Center for Corporate and Securities Law (CCSL), Center for Intellectual Property Law and Markets (CIPLM), and the new Healthcare and Biotechnology Law Center;
- Our academic research centers and institutes, including the Center for the Study of Constitutional Originalism, Institute for Law and Philosophy, Institute for Law and Religion, and the new Center for Computation, Mathematics and the Law;
- Our Center for Veterans Legal Assistance and Advocacy and the Initiative to Protect Student Veterans;
- Technology and infrastructure enhancements, including renovating classrooms and student-focused common areas to enhance innovative teaching and student collaboration and teamwork; and
- Our Semester in Washington, D.C. Externship Program.
In this 60th anniversary year, as we celebrate the many successes of our alumni, I ask that you do all that you can to support the law school so we can continue to build on this great legacy.
With my sincere thanks and best wishes,
Stephen C. Ferruolo
Dean and Professor of Law