Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Law Schools Still Reacting To Drop In Enrollment

So far we've heard about Seton Hall, Vermont, Florida Coastal, and McGeorge reducing staff size. Now it's Thomas Jefferson's turn.

From Above the Law: 
"The law school in question is none other than the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and it is kicking off the new academic year with 12 fewer employees, thanks to a series of layoffs and budget cuts to the tune of a [4.4] million dollars. Thomas Guernsey, who took over [from Rudy Hasl] as dean of the school on July 1, said Thursday that some adjunct faculty and other staff members were laid off. Fourteen classes that had low enrollment or were highly specialized were eliminated, he said. Lori Wulfemeyer, head of communications at the school, said the layoffs leave about 65 full-time employees at the school."

Things got interesting when the new enrollment numbers shed light on exactly what TJSL was working with. From Law Librarian Blog: At this point, "there are 385,358 Fall 2013 applications submitted by 59,426 applicants. Applicants are down 12.3% and applications are down 17.9% from 2012. Last year at this time, we had 100% of the preliminary final applicant (and application) count."

"It seems that TJSL optimistically expected to meet its regular enrollment goal of 350 new students, but only 250 have signed up thus far. 'There are a number of law schools across the country having to adjust their budgets because of fewer applications coming in, and it finally hit us,' Wulfemeyer said in the school’s defense."

The added challenge for TJSL is that the school is paying for an eight-story, 305,000-square-foot building it opened in downtown San Diego in 2011. The project put the school $133 million in debt. Guernsey said the recent cutbacks will help the school continue to pay down the debt on schedule.

Thomas Guernsey took the reigns at a difficult time. He just became dean on July 1, and he has obviously had to make unpopular and challenging decisions. I wish them the best of luck. And I am glad to report that their law librarian is safe.

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