Following up on my previous posts (links below) on the enormous financial difficulties at the University of Minnesota Law School: Minnesota Daily, New University Law School Dean Aims to Refocus School's Goals:
Amid declining enrollment and budget deficits at the University of Minnesota’s Law School, the new dean wants to shift the narrative.
Since taking over leadership at the law school in July, Garry Jenkins has pushed aside stories about mending declining enrollment to focus on curriculum and job placement instead.
Applications to the University’s law school dropped by nearly 50 percent between 2010 and 2015, and first-year enrollments fell by over 30 percent, leading to a loss of tuition revenue for the school.
Rather than focus on enrollment, Jenkins said he wants to put a larger emphasis on accessibility and affordability at the Law School, as well as curriculum and job placement for graduates. “Right now it’s a competitive environment to bring in the best and the brightest,” he said. “I want to make sure that they have the opportunities to do whatever it is they want to do after graduation and not be encumbered by debt.” ...
Julie Tonneson, the University’s associate vice president for budget and finance, said declining enrollment at the Law School led to a budget deficit, causing the school to deplete its reserves. She said the Law School has reduced their expenses by roughly $4.6 million since 2014, and the University has increased allocations by $5.5 million to address the imbalance.
“Clearly, we’re in a process where we’re trying to adjust our budget to our revenues,” Jenkins said. “We’re … adjusting to a reality in which we will be a smaller institution.”
Additionally, in 2013, the Board of Regents began authorizing year-end transfers to the school to cover shortfalls. The transfers totaled $13.9 million through 2016. Regent Richard Beeson, chair of the board’s Finance Committee, said the transfers were initially characterized as short-term funding plans, but the board reviews the Law School’s budget annually to address the school’s needs on a year-by-year basis. ...
Beeson said the cost of the transfers is worth keeping up the Law School’s national reputation — it is currently ranked as the 22nd best law school in the country by U.S. News and World Report. “This is the legal center for the upper Midwest,” Beeson said. “Any time you have such a high-ranking school, you need to support it.”
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- University Provides $2.2 Million Lifeline to Minnesota Law School to Help Close $3 Million Budget Deficit Caused by 18% Enrollment Decline (June 4, 2016)
- Amidst 32% Enrollment Decline, University Of Minnesota Funds $16 Million Law School Operating Deficit (Feb. 12, 2016)
- Dorothy Brown: A Top Law School Will Close In 2-4 Years (Mar. 17, 2016)
- NY Times: Amidst 33% Enrollment Decline, University Of Minnesota Funds $16 Million Law School Operating Deficit (May 13, 2016)
- Chronicle: Highly Ranked Law Schools Like Minnesota, Washington & Lee Cut Enrollments, Costs To Survive (July 2, 2016)
- Minnesota (-33%), Oregon (-43%) Law Schools Welcome Much Smaller 1L Classes Compared to 2011 (Aug. 23, 2016)