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February 19, 2005

Law Schools at GMU, Michigan State, UMass: Why Acquire Rather than Build?

I read in the Chronicle of Higher Ed that U. Mass is planning to add a law school by merging with the Southern New England School of Law, as this December 2004 press release says. This is like the strategy of George Mason University, which successfully bought a fifth-rate law school, and Michigan State, which is doing the same thing. George Mason was successful because it fired lots (most?) of the faculty, which makes buying the fifth-rate law school seem pointless. The Southern New England School of Law isn't even accredited-- it has twice failed to gain accreditation.
"This is a win-win situation for the University of Massachusetts and the law school,’’ said Southern New England School of Law Chairperson Margaret Xifaras. "We are proud to have built a first-rate facility, a strong library, a talented faculty and an academic program that has already been endorsed by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. We have made measurable and documented progress toward attaining our next goal: national accreditation by the American Bar Association.
Why, I wonder in all three cases, did a university of moderately good reputation choose to acquire a bad law school rather than start from scratch? I suppose the buildings are worth something. But why acquire tenured faculty who are worse than useless, and a history and reputation of low quality?

Posted by erasmuse at February 19, 2005 07:52 PM

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