Faculty Senate Hears Law School Update

Dean Blake Morant outlines the school’s recent history, progress and priorities for the future.

Blake Morant
GW Law School Dean Blake Morant told the Faculty Senate on Friday that his school is focused on students' success at GW and beyond. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)
December 11, 2017

Student success and wellness are critical priorities for the George Washington University Law School, Dean Blake Morant told members of the Faculty Senate Friday.

In an update on the Law School and its strategic direction, Mr. Morant emphasized the importance of having a diverse, inclusive student body and ensuring all succeed at GW and beyond by addressing individuals’ varied needs.

“It’s imperative that we are able to address those,” Mr. Morant said, adding faculty and student affairs staff members provide students with academic and other support with the goal of giving all students the necessary tools to be successful when they graduate. The Alumni Mentoring Program also helps students make professional connections and get counsel from alumni.

The Law School has more than 1,600 J.D. students, hundreds more graduate program students and about 27,000 living alumni. GW’s programs in intellectual property and government procurement are especially well known, Mr. Morant said, and the Law School has one of the “richest legacies” of experiential education in the country. Given GW’s location, students can secure various externships and work in a number of GW legal clinics that offer opportunities for them to gain real-world experience—interviewing clients, researching, going to court—while still in school.

He added faculty currently are engaged in a curriculum reform examination, looking at the Law School’s offerings to make sure they prepare students for the profession when they graduate.

Mr. Morant said U.S. News and World Report rankings continue to be a dominant measure for Law Schools, and reputation, bar passage, student selectivity and resources are important metrics.

The Law School continues a “concerted” effort to communicate about its unique programs and strengths, and it maintains efforts to enroll academically talented diverse classes, support students during school and through bar passage and invest in resources.

Mr. Morant also noted budget challenges associated with recently enrolling a smaller first-year class. The Law School is making adjustments to its operating costs and focusing on online and other graduate programs to generate revenue, he said.

The GW master of laws program, which provides legal education but not a J.D., has a “great degree of promise here in the District,” Mr. Morant said, noting those who work on Capitol Hill or in regulatory areas may feel they would benefit from legal background but do not intend to become a practicing attorney.

In other Faculty Senate news, Provost Forrest Maltzman said the university has begun holding student experience listening sessions and the common themes will help articulate principles for creating a positive student experience.

President Thomas LeBlanc also provided an update on his five priorities:

  • He continues to meet with students to discuss their experiences.
  • He is working with leadership to measure research activity and address research support. He added he has heard concerns from faculty about the Institutional Review Board and is working to address them.
  • The university is engaging with the Medical Faculty Associates and GW Hospital with the goal of ultimately creating a new relationship among the university and these two partners.
  • He is working with staff to determine high-priority areas of concern at the university and making changes to them so they can be used as an example for other departments, to help begin to change culture.
  • He hired a new vice president for the Division of Development and Alumni Relations and will begin to travel to cities across the country to meet alumni.
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