Daily Egyptian

School of Law to focus on operations vital to functioning

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

The School of Law is fighting to retain its core mission as budget cuts are made throughout the university.

The school experienced a budget cut of almost $111,000 — 1.2 percent of its overall budget for this fiscal year. 

School of Law Dean Cynthia Fountaine said the cut represents 3 percent of the university’s state budget for the law school and came from a reserve fund. The reserve acts as an emergency fund, and according to Fountaine, because it has accumulated over the years, the school can prepare for emergencies differently than departments. 

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The school is also cutting expenses to accommodate for the budget crisis, including seven vacant tenured-track faculty positions.

To cover the courses attached to those positions, the school is focusing on providing classes vital to the functions of the school by having other faculty take over teaching.

Though a few instructors who are covering an overload of courses are being compensated, some instructors are giving up elective classes they usually teach to cover core courses.

“We have certain classes here at the law school that are required,” Fountaine said. “For the most part … we have shifted their teaching list to make sure all those classes are covered.” 

To decide what classes to offer, the school offered a town-hall style meeting for its students to voice their input. 

Maria Napolez, a second-year law student from Los Angeles, said the associate dean of the school asked students what classes they believed were important, what class times worked best for students and addressed other concerns.

“They try their best to make it where it accommodates the students,” Napolez said. “I think that’s one way they’re dealing with those budget cuts.” 

The school is also postponing or canceling building improvements and renovations during this period, according to Judi Ray, the school’s assistant dean of administration. 

Ray said the school planned to reorganize one of its administrative suites and buy upgraded equipment, but will now postpone such projects to save money.

“We can deal with what we have,” Ray said. 

Other cuts include travel reductions per the recommendation of Interim Chancellor Bradley Colwell.

The school only enrolls graduate students, but does not have any graduate assistantships. Fountaine said graduate assistant positions are not a concern for the law school as they are for other departments.

As of now, Fountaine said the school has not had to terminate any staff or faculty members. 

“As we’re making these cuts, we’re trying to protect our academic mission here at the law school,” Fountaine said. “We’re looking at everything we can do to save money and still provide the excellent legal education that we do. “

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @coryray_DE

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