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Vermont Law Undergoes Faculty Changes
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Vermont Law

Summary: Vermont Law School is trying to save costs by reducing the size of its workforce.

Vermont Law School announced that in an attempt to cut costs, they will be undergoing “faculty restructuring,” according to Valley News. The law school is still trying to figure out the details of how exactly they will be reducing their workforce.

  
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President Thomas McHenry said, “Our target is maximum programmatic efficiency and value. Our major priorities are preserving our strong (juris doctorate) program, maintaining our strong environmental program, and keeping the immensely strong sense of community we have here.”

McHenry explained that the process to downsize began last October by reviewing all faculty positions to determine any possible efficiency gains. The school, like many other law schools, has struggled financially since the economic downturn took a hit to the number of law school applications and enrollment numbers.

The law school plans to finish the restructuring process by late June. Some of the changes include moving a few professors to professor emeritus status, asking some professors to take on more responsibilities, and reducing the teaching the programmatic loads of others. At this time, no cuts have been made to staff members.

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McHenry said he is optimistic that the changes will help the school remain viable. “All institutions have to be worried about solvency. We have a small endowment and very limited state and federal funding. The restructuring we’re going through is designed to address those concerns,” McHenry added.

The last time the school underwent a major staff change was in 2013. There were a number of layoffs and the law school cut its operating budget by $4 million to now be around $23 million. The school had 135 faculty members and staff last year, not including their summer, adjunct, and online faculty, that taught 630 students, 140 of which are online students.



Last semester was a bumpy one for the law school with some students questioning the school’s finances. The U.S. Department of Agriculture loaned the school $17 million to help them get their budget back in order.

Vermont Law School received 75 percent of its annual budget from tuition revenues. The drop in enrollment numbers has been a big hit for the school. They have implemented a three percent tuition hike to begin this fall and enrollment numbers have started to pick back up. The fall class has 183 students enrolled, up from 161 students last fall and 148 the year before that.

The American Bar Association recently changed the standards regarding the number of credits that can be earned online for a juris doctorate, something which McHenry says they plan to take advantage of. He said, “Theoretically, you could do law school in one year of residence that includes summer, fall, spring, and then a year of online coursework, and then a semester in practice, which you might think of as an externship.”

Do you think students will learn enough through online courses? Do you prefer online or in-person courses? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about Vermont Law, read these articles:

Photo: greenbillion.org



 

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