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Light the World

letter to alumni

Dear Alumni:

On October 24, 2008, Boston College Law School launched its first-ever capital campaign. This historic effort will raise $50 million over the next seven years to strengthen faculty, students and programmatic initiatives. The endeavor is part of a larger University effort, the $1.5 billion “Light the World” campaign, announced earlier in the month. 

At the Law School, as at the University, “Light the World” is the result of a 2003 strategic planning effort. We challenged some of the best minds in the community—faculty, administrators, alumni, and students—to chart a course for the next decade with one guide in mind: What would it take to be the very best?

We know we are already in a good position: Boston College Law School is consistently ranked among the top law schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Yet, while we are in impressive company, we know we can be better. In fact, we need to do better.

Why? Because we are a relatively young school, founded in 1929. The nation's best and most prestigious law schools are considerably older, and thus, have been raising money longer. They have larger endowments and are better positioned financially in the very competitive law school market. Larger endowments allow them greater flexibility in recruiting top faculty and providing more generous student aid packages and loan forgiveness programs.

If, at BC Law School, we want to count ourselves among the very best--and we do--then we must commit to raising funds to secure this vision. With priorities to strengthen faculty, students, programs, and facilities, "Light the World" will set us well on our way. Our Law School Campaign priorities include:

Faculty: $31.5 million

The very best law schools have low student-faculty ratios. To achieve this at Boston College Law School, we must increase the faculty by 20 percent. This would add 10 new faculty members, bringing our student-faculty ratio to a competitive 11:1. We propose to accomplish this through endowed professorships, a vehicle that will help us attract top scholars without increasing tuition. Already, we are off to a good start: In past years, we have endowed four chairs: the Libby, Drinan, Kenealy, and Donohue professorships. The night of our launch, we received the fifth such endowment, from Liberty Mutual, which at $3.1 million is the largest gift of any kind in our history.

Students: $9.5 million

The high cost of legal education is one of the greatest challenges facing the Law School today. We lag behind peer and aspirant schools in our ability to meet growing student financial need. Raising more money for scholarships and grants will help in three ways: More aid will allow us to attract the highest caliber students, draw a more diverse student body, and, by offering more robust loan repayment assistance, enable our graduates to pursue careers in public service.

Programs: $5.5 million

Through this campaign, we also seek to strengthen the Law School's academic program with a small cluster of strategic initiatives. Two have already launched during the quiet phase. Our LLM program, designed to enhance our international profile, graduated its first class last spring. With a total of 12 students now, the program will eventually grow to 30. The Center for Human Rights and International Justice opened in late 2005; we hope to build on that success by adding several more centers of excellence, including one called Law, Religion, and Religious Institutions.

Facilities: $3.5 million

A growing faculty and increased courses, centers, and programs will require us to provide technically up-to-date buildings and spaces that encourage community-building.

The Law School takes pride in being an integral part of a Jesuit, Catholic university. BC Law seeks, in all programs, to provide an educational community that both prepares students for professional lives and imparts to them a different set of principles, values, and ambitions than do other law schools.

We are confident that this campaign will strengthen that commitment and help us achieve our aspiration of becoming one of the country's top law schools. We hope we can count on your support in this historic effort.