Partlett Returns to Teaching
Steps down after five years as dean by Timothy L. Hussey
fter five years as dean, David F. Partlett returns to the classroom this fall having improved the quality of the student body, recruited high- caliber faculty to build on specialty areas, increased scholarships and financial aid to students and improved Gambrell Hall and MacMillan Law Library to meet additional space requirements. “I wanted to create a community centered on our students because they are what we are all about,” Partlett says. “Students thrive in a situation where they have a sense of community with faculty and with alumni.”
Creating a student-centered law school Under Partlett, the median lsat improved from 164 in 2006 to 166 in 2010 while the median undergraduate GPA improved from 3.50 in 2006 to 3.54 in 2010. Diversity improved as well. In 2006, 22 percent of the first-year class were students from underrepresented groups. In 2010, the percentage increased to 33 percent. “One of the advantages we have here at Emory is we don’t have the competition you have at other law schools because it is a small community of students — everyone is very collaborative,” says Jason Estevez 10l of the student experience. To make an Emory legal education more affordable, Partlett used money from his appointment package to increase the overall scholarship budget by nearly 20 percent from 2005 to 2010. Gambrell Hall and MacMillan Law Library were renovated to make both spaces more inviting, to accommodate additional faculty and to provide improved classroom technology. Enhancing excellence in the classroom Full-time faculty expanded from 65 in 2005 to 71 in 2010. New centers were added in key areas such as transactional law, international and comparative law, and federalism. An international humanitarian law clinic also was founded. The faculty completed a review of the first-year curriculum, adding a required course in legislation and regulation, while allowing students to select an elective course during their second semester. The elective, a distinctive feature of the Emory Law curriculum, allows students to begin to develop their particular areas of interest. “Exposure to a new subject of interest in the first year will help students to choose their upper-level courses more carefully and deliberately,” says Stacy Tolos 10l, who served on the curriculum review committee. Emory Law also expanded the master of laws (llm) program by offering six concentrations in areas of faculty
Professors Charlie Shanor and David F. Partlett (right) talk with new LLM students at an opening reception in August.
and academic strength. These include Child Law and Policy, Human Rights Law, Public Law and Regulation, Transactional Law, Vulnerability and the Human Condition, and Law and Religion. A doctor of juridical science (SJD) was added and enhanced. Reconnecting with alumni Alumni support grew as well during Partlett’s tenure, with a significant increase in total alumni giving. Emory Law also expanded programming for alumni in cities across the country. “Our alumni have responded favorably to Emory Law’s becoming more student-focused,” Partlett says. “They have embraced and welcomed the changes they saw being made to improve the student experience.” The Emory Law Advisory Board and the Emory Law Alumni Board were both reconfigured, providing expanded opportunities for alumni to become more engaged with the school. Returning to the classroom The decision to return to the classroom was not an easy one, Partlett says, though he looks forward to working more closely with students. “I feel privileged because I can step into something I have long missed — that is to go back to teaching and scholarship, which has long been deferred,” Partlett says. Hussey is senior director of marketing and communications at Emory Law.