Following up on my previous post, Michigan State Law School To Fully Integrate With University: Lansing State Journal, Dean: Making MSU College of Law Part of the University 'Will Stabilize Us':
By 2020, the Michigan State University College of Law will no longer be a private law school located in the heart of the East Lansing campus. It will be a part of the university.
"Everybody recognized that sooner or later this was going to happen," said Lawrence Ponoroff, dean of the law school. ...
[T]he move comes after several difficult years. Like many other schools, the MSU College of Law has seen declines in applications and enrollment.
Its expenses outran revenue to the tune of $1.74 million between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, according to the school's 2016 990 tax form, the most recent available.
“This action will stabilize us," Ponoroff told the law school's Board of Trustees on Oct. 31, "but it’s not a panacea, and we will still all need to continue to work very hard to bring the law school to the next plateau, the levels that we’d like to see it achieve.”
Law school enrollments across the country have been in decline since 2010 and not just a little bit. Law school enrollment last year was at its lowest level since 1974, Derek Muller, an associate professor of law at Pepperdine University wrote on his blog last year.
Tax records and disclosures required by the American Bar Association shows the MSU College of Law hasn't been immune to the slowdown.
MSU College of Law received 3,732 applications in the 2011-12 school year. Some 915 students were working towards a juris doctorate degree at the time.
In the twelve months proceeding October of 2017, just 2,107 potential students completed applications, a 43 percent decline. Enrollment in its juris doctor program had dropped to 784 students as of Oct. 5, 2017.
"We’ve got top ten law colleges by ranking that are providing scholarships to 40-plus percent of their student body, and that struggle is nationwide," said Donald Nystrom, chair of the law school's board.
Struggles are exacerbated in the Midwest, he added, and it has required school officials to control costs. ...
During the 2013 fiscal year, MSU Law's expenses overran revenue by $649,617, per tax documents. 2014 and 2015 saw MSU Law back in the black, but it didn't last. MSU Law's expenses for the 2016 tax year outpaced revenue to the tune of $1.74 million, according to tax documents.
Its financial reserves remain "significant," Ponoroff said, but the move was needed.
"Unless things changed dramatically in the law school application market, we might well have had to compromise on quality in order to balance the budget."
Which it doesn't seem to have done so far. In 2011, the median LSAT score of an incoming student was 157, according to data provided to the American Bar Association. The median LSAT score among new students this fall was 154. Incoming students' grade point averages have remained essentially flat.
Bringing MSU Law completely under the university's umbrella is expected to yield significant savings, as the school will no longer have to pay for its own auditors, legal counsel insurance and employee benefits.