Willamette Lawyer | Spring 2006 • Vol. VI, No. 1
Raising the Bar - The Professionalism Program at WUCL: Since 1996, outstanding members of Oregon’s bench and bar have gathered at the College of Law to help establish good practices in professionalism among Willamette law students.
DEAN’S MESSAGE Dear Alumni and Friends, In my ﬁrst letter to you shortly after assuming the deanship in 1999, I expressed my belief that “a new dean should not ask you for money before giving you the opportunity to see his vision for the school.” Since then, you have had ample opportunities to not only observe the vision, but also to witness its transformation into reality. Here are some examples, by the numbers: 1. Admissions. Since 1999, applications for admission to the College of Law have increased by 216 percent (from 720 to 1554), reaching the highest point in the school’s history and exceeding by 90 percent the national increase of applicants. Our acceptance rate is also the most selective in the school’s history, having improved by 33 percentage points (21 points more than the corresponding national rate). 2. Bar Passage. In 1999, the passage rate of our graduates on the Oregon bar exams was 61 percent (11 points below the state average). In 2004, it was 85 percent (11 points above the state average); and in 2005, it was 74.3 percent. In 1999, our bar passage rate in Washington was 59 percent (20 points below the state average). In 2005, it was 86.4 percent (11 points above the state average). 3. Faculty. Since 1999, the tenure track faculty has grown from 22 to 25, of whom 13 have joined Willamette in the last ﬁve years. This growth has not only added outstanding scholars and teachers to the faculty, but also has improved the student-faculty ratio from 18:1 to 15.8:1 (compared with a national average of 16:1). 4. Fiscal Management. In the 1999-2000 academic year, the College of Law spent 94 percent of the revenues it generated. For the 2005-06 academic year, this number fell to 85 percent. During this time, the school’s gross revenues grew by 40 percent, its costs by 27 percent and the net revenues by 55 percent. These gains have not come from tuition increases. Although our tuition per student is now 29 percent higher than in 1999, the national average has increased by 40 percent for private schools and by 56 percent (out of state) or 78 percent (in state) for public schools. These numbers document unmistakable, if not spectacular, progress. This progress is the result of the hard work of our faculty and staff and the persistent efforts of our students, as well as the gracious support of President Pelton and many alumni and friends both within and outside the University. Despite this progress and the considerable ﬁnancial gains of the last few years, the ﬁnancial health of the College of Law always has been — and remains — precarious, primarily because of its location, its small size and its commendable choice of quality over quantity. Despite prevailing perceptions, the College of Law does not subsidize Willamette University. The reverse is closer to the truth, at least during the difﬁcult years. The best, if not the only, way to ensure the ﬁnancial stability of the college and to reduce its dependence on the University is by increasing the college’s own endowment. To this end, in December of 2005 we launched the ﬁrst endowment campaign in the school’s history. Our goal is to add $15 million to the school’s endowment. This is an ambitious goal considering that in the ﬁrst 117 years of its history, the College of Law had only raised $5.4 million in endowment. Although by 1999 the market value of this endowment had grown to $8.6 million, it was still less than one-fourth the national average for private schools. Since then, thanks to the inspiring generosity of our alumni and friends, we have raised an additional $9.6 million, thus reaching 64 percent of our campaign goal. The challenge now is to continue this remarkable progress and to reach and exceed the total goal. We cannot hope to achieve this without your support. I hope you agree that the progress of the last few years suggests this support is warranted and ensures it will not be misplaced. With my warmest regards, Dean Symeon C. Symeonides 2 | Willamette Lawyer Symeon C. Symeonides Dean and Professor of Law