The National Jurist - Back to School 2017 - 5
Just two years ago, Charleston School of
Law was on the brink of failing.
Enrollment numbers were dwindling.
Its financial health was in peril. Graduates'
debt-to-income ratios were high. Above
all, the school was beleaguered by a controversial pending sale to InfiLaw, the
owner of three for-profit law schools. But
Charleston Law, also a for-profit school,
at an unexpected rate.
By making a series of
Ed Bell, the
has improved its financial standing and
attracted more students to its urban campus in downtown Charleston, S.C.
"The school is turning around quicker
than I ever could have imagined," Bell
said. "This has really been a perfect storm
for everything to go right."
Most recently, Charleston Law was
able to improve its financial responsibility composite score, used by the federal
government to measure a school's financial
health, from 0.6 to 2.6 in just two years.
Schools with a composite score of less than
1.0 are not considered financially responsible and are in danger of losing access to
federal financial aid funds.
UNT Dallas gets
raising LSAT scores
Charleston Law is improving in other
areas, too. First year enrollment has risen
from 84 incoming students in 2015 to an
estimated 220 in 2017. The law school
was also able to pay off a $6 million debt
while avoiding a spike in annual tuition.
"When the school was having such
bad problems, there was such a feeling
of potential loss," Bell said. "The city of
Charleston had wrapped its arms around
it. Hundreds of people called, wanting to
Bell, who is new to academia, said
he and the law school's faculty are doing
everything to safeguard Charleston Law
from potential pitfalls. Bell frequently
sits in on lectures and has become a student of higher education. In addition, the
law school was able to hire back professors who had been laid off in previous
years - a move that will prove critical to
Charleston Law's success, Bell said.
Charleston Law is in the midst of transitioning from a for-profit institution to
a nonprofit organization. The move will
allow the law school to increase its scholarship offerings and cut student debt in
half within five years, Bell said. The law
school is also searching for a new campus
in downtown Charleston. Obtaining nonprofit status would facilitate this process
"We need nonprofit status to make the
school truly work," Bell said. "The idea of
taking a profit or putting money back into
the school is a real conflict, and we need to
take that conflict out of the equation."
The University of North Texas at Dallas
College of Law received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association on
June 3, less than a year after it received a
recommendation against accreditation.
accreditation is a big
victory for the state
school but comes
with some compromises. In August of
2016, the accreditation committee
because of concerns
about the school's
low admission standards and uncertain
UNT Dallas had de-emphasized LSAT
scores in an effort to attract a more diverse
student body. To get accreditation, it raised
its LSAT profile so that the 25th percentile rose from 143 to 147. The school now
requires a supermajority of its admissions
committee to approve admission for students
scoring less than 142.
"The ABA process has strengthened our
law school and made us a better law school,"
Dean Royal Furgeson said. "The first rejection was challenging to work through, but
it highlighted our weaknesses, and we made
adjustments to make us better."
UNT Dallas College of Law is the least
expensive law school in Texas and one of the
10 most affordable ABA-accredited schools
in the nation. Tuition is only $15,133.
Purdue University acquires Concord Law School
Concord Law School, the only online law
school when it launched in 1998, is now
the first online J.D. program at a public
Purdue University acquired
Kaplan University, which
is the parent company of
Concord. The state university
in Indiana was attracted to Kaplan by its
online components and decided to purchase the university for its assets. Kaplan
has 32,000 students and 15 physical
locations with the majority of programs
"None of us knows how fast
or in what direction online
higher education will evolve,
but we know its role will grow,
and we intend that Purdue be
positioned to be a leader as that happens,"
said Purdue president and former Indiana
governor Mitch Daniels in an announceBack to School 2017
THE NATIONAL JURIST
ment of the deal. "A careful analysis made
it clear that we are very ill-equipped to
build the necessary capabilities ourselves
and that the smart course would be to
acquire them if we could."
Purdue University paid $1 to acquire
Kaplan University from Graham Holdings
Co., which will still run the programs for
30 years in exchange for 12.5 percent of
revenue. Purdue expects the programs to
be financially self-sustaining.