Summary: The outgoing dean at the University of Minnesota law school used statistics and trends to predict an improvement in the school’s enrollment problems.
There are a few law schools that have been nearly crushed by the country’s Law School enrollment crisis over the past several years. The University of Minnesota is one of these schools that has experienced a rough time trying to stay open and keep attracting students to apply and attend their program. The school now believes that those rough days may be soon over.
The number of applications to the law school has dropped nearly half and enrollment by a third since 2010. The outgoing law school dean predicts the school will start seeing their numbers improve. Dean David Wippman presented numbers in a presentation to U regents where he expects by 2020 that the school will be able to stop its reliance on year-end financial contributions from the university in order to balance their budget, totaling around $16 million since 2012.
Board vice chair and a graduate of the law school David McMillan said, “It looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and it isn’t that far out.” The law school has taken several measures to survive this long and will have to continue doing so for a while longer. These measures have included cutting faculty and support staff as well as eliminating free coffee in the faculty lounge.
The Great Lakes region was hit especially hard by the crisis with Minnesota reporting the biggest drop in LSAT takers. Two other law schools in Minnesota – Hamline and William Mitchell – merged after being rivals for 40 years. Less than 2,000 people applied to the University of Minnesota compared to five years before when almost 4,000 applied. The law school only enrolled 176 of these applicants where as in 2010 they enrolled 260.
The school relies on tuition to make up around 60 percent of their revenue so such drastic drops in enrollment have hurt their budget severely. They tried increasing financial aid to attract students but that resulted in having to rely on private fundraising and support from the university to make up the difference.
The law school is ranked 20th in nation rankings along with another school. They have avoided dropping enrollment standards in order to keep this ranking. U President Eric Kaler explained, “The balance of quality and applications is key, and we’ve made a decision to maintain quality.”