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Overseers Informed of Priorities

The BC Law Board of Overseers engaged in a wide-ranging discussion at its May meeting, during which Law School Dean John Garvey, BC President William P. Leahy, S.J., and two university vice presidents discussed BC Law’s future in the context of the university’s mission and long-range goals.

It became apparent during the various presentations that the university is providing strong philosophical and financial support to the Law School as it moves forward with its strategic plan.

Father Leahy told the overseers that the university sees graduate education— and particularly the Law School—as important because of the Jesuit intellectual tradition embodying social justice and service to others. In answer to an inquiry about BC Law’s proposal to establish a Center for the Study of Law, Religion, and Religious Institutions, Leahy posed a question of his own: If the controversial issues facing society today cannot be explored at the university and the Law School, then where can the moral, ethical, and religious issues be examined with the full weight of academic inquiry?

In his remarks, Garvey asked a different question: “What would it take to be the best?” BC Law has traditionally been
ranked among the top twenty-five law schools nationally, but Garvey warned that the growth of law and the globalization of the economy require the Law School to do more if it is to remain competitive. BC Law’s strategic plan, he said, has identified enabling and programmatic proposals to maintain that edge.

Among the enabling proposals is a greater investment in faculty and an expansion of facilities to accommodate new faculty, thirty to forty new classes, and a proposed new LL.M. program. Increasing financial aid to achieve the Law School’s goals concerning student selectivity, diversity, and public service is also a necessity, Garvey said. So is graduate housing. As University Executive Vice President Patrick Keating told the overseers, housing for students at all BC’s graduate schools is a university-wide priority.

The programmatic initiatives Garvey put forth include the LL.M. program and a Center for Human Rights and Justice. Other proposed developments are an expanded Law and Education Program with the Lynch School, an Institute for Ethics and the Legal Profession, and an Emerging Enterprises and Business Law Program.

Garvey went on to describe the competitive environment in the context of the US News & World Report rankings. BC Law improved from twenty-ninth to twenty-seventh this year, he said, but pointed to the challenges of increasing—or even sustaining—that score. For example, peer assessment of the quality of the school’s faculty counts for 40 percent of the ranking. Similarly, student selectivity counts for 25 percent of the US News score. Replacing ten JD students per year with LL.M. students, which is what is proposed, would improve selectivity and thus also the rankings, he explained.

Keating talked about some of the priorities under discussion at the university, many of which dovetail with the Law School’s. In addition to graduate student residences, he cited the growth of faculty, an emphasis on interdisciplinary centers and institutes, and continued investment in the graduate professional schools.

The university’s financial commitment to the Law School was reaffirmed by Peter McKenzie, university vice president and treasurer, whose discussion of the numbers showed that the university’s subsidizing of graduate education at BC Law is appropriate because of what the Law School brings to the table at a Jesui university.

In other business, the overseers heard reports from the development and career services committees.

Overseers Chair Richard Campbell welcomed new members Robert Brooker, Stephen Fogg ’75, Paul Kane ’70, Christopher Mansfield ’75, Albert Notini ’83, Joseph Vanek ’87, and Kathy and Robert Paulus. Kicking off the weekend was a dean’s reception and dinner at the Boston Harbor Hotel, featuring honored guest Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly ’70.

-Vicki Sanders

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