John Sharp is a man with a vision. Inspired by his boss, Bryan state Sen. William T. Moore, who tried and failed to plant a law school in Texas A&M — Moore was up against Frank Erwin, a chairman of the University of Texas System Board of regents who just wouldn’t have it — Sharp is seeking to buy Texas Wesleyan School of Law and to give A&M what it so desperately needs.
But does it? Convincing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board won’t be easy. The dismal reports of Wall Street and the ABA depict about 50% of JDs not even landing jobs in law. State funds are sparse. How can they justify a $25 million purchase? As Texas Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan noted, there are even less funds after A&M spent millions to secure a federal biosecurity research center to Bryan College Station just a week ago.
“A&M is sending out a conflicting message that they are going to have to work on in the legislature because all we ever hear is how broke they are and how they are going to have to raise tuition to keep going, but yet every week there is a new announcement that they are going to spend tens of millions of dollars that in my opinion have very little to do with their core responsibility, which is to provide a world class education to 45,000 undergraduates,” said Ogden. “While they are out there empire-building, they are going to have a hard time explaining to the Legislature that they need more money.”
A perfectly Republican thing to say, but does that mean Sharp doesn’t have a shot? With his logic of “If you build it, they will come,” he seems to be convinced that a law school is really what A&M needs, and when Ogden said “I don’t think the legislature wants more lawyers. There is going to be some resistance in the Legislature for funding this,” Sharp had said, “We are not interested in producing more lawyers. We are interested in producing more world-class lawyers.”
High claims — but can he back them? The drama will unfold as the Board considers the request.