As you probably know by now, RWU President Donald Farish this week made two major announcements that in many respects will shape the coming years at RWU Law.
First, he announced that Professor Michael Yelnosky will replace me as Dean at the end of the 2013-14 academic year. In my view (and in the view of literally everyone I have spoken to) this is an inspired choice. Michael is totally ready for the job: as one of the founding members of our faculty, he has taught many of our alumni and current students, worked closely with his colleagues on the faculty and Senior Staff as the Associate Dean of RWU Law from 2004-08, and is known broadly for his leadership on judicial selection policies, both in Rhode Island and nationally. Besides bringing experience and talent to the job, he guarantees continuity and a smooth transition from my administration to the next.
President Farish also announced that RWU Law is joining in a campus-wide commitment to Affordable Excellence. This program targets the three biggest challenges facing higher education (both colleges and professional schools) nationally: the high cost of earning a degree; the high debt levels accumulated to earn that degree; and the need, in a very competitive marketplace, to graduate students who are ready to add value to employers from day one. Off to a terrific start at the undergrad level http://rwu.edu/about/partnerships-initiatives/affordable-excellence, it is time to extend those policies to RWU Law. By cutting tuition and guaranteeing that tuition for each entering class won't increase during their three years at RWU, a top legal education will now be in reach for many more talented college graduates. These policies will also make a significant dent in student debt, an area where we have been recognized for our progress already.
Finally, Affordable Excellence is manifest in our new guarantee that every qualified RWU Law student will be afforded a substantial clinical experience before they graduate, improving their job-readiness, and thus marketability. And what opportunities our students have! As the only law school in the state, we have for some time enjoyed a virtual lock on a wide array of plum externships, state and federal, judicial and public interest, and we’ve recently added opportunities to work in the offices of leading corporate counsel and in our innovative new Community Economic Development Clinic.
When you add all of that practical experience to our traditionally excellent core legal education and historically strong bar pass rates, the message is clear: RWU Law is one of the best values in legal education around.