Polsby Discusses School of Law Plans at Town Hall Meeting

Posted: April 14, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jocelyn Rappaport

At his first town hall meeting open to faculty, staff, and students on Tuesday, Daniel Polsby, newly appointed dean of the George Mason University School of Law, said his goal is to continue to increase the value of a degree from the School of Law. He also said he hopes to expand the school’s sources of revenue and increase financial aid and scholarships.

Polsby noted while Mason’s law program and reputation is growing, competitive law schools are not standing still. Other schools are raising tuition, hiring outstanding professors, and expanding programs and services. “These schools are less concerned with cost of tuition and more concerned with perception of quality,” he said.

Polsby outlined the numerous advantages of Mason’s law program, including the benefit of Mason being the only accredited public law school in the national capital area. In addition, the area provides excellent business and research opportunities. Mason’s School of Law, which expects 6,000 applications for only 200 openings this year, has a tuition set just above $10,000 per year for in-state students. “It is the highest value proposition, with low tuition and a demanding program,” he said.

In the coming year, the School of Law intends to raise more private funds and reach out more to its alumni, Polsby said. With this initiative in place, new staff members have been hired for the Career and Alumni Services Office, which will allow for increased national marketing of graduates. There is a new director of the Development Office, the school is asking for additional financial support from the university. Another source of increased revenue will be tuition. For the first time, the School of Law has negotiated to keep a significant amount of its tuition increase to use specifically within the law school. Next year, if current plans hold, law school tuition will increase by $2,000 for in-state and $3,000 for out-of-state students.

In addition to increasing financial aid and scholarships with this new revenue, the Law School plans to expand the scope and size of faculty, providing more classes for students and even more renowned faculty. In a related effort, designs are being developed to reconfigure space in the school to better utilize classrooms and hold seminars.

Polsby concluded the meeting by taking questions from the audience. Students were interested in the process of scheduling classes, the ratio of full-time and part-time students, alumni involvement, and the focus of the law school. Polsby stated that while the focus will continue to be law and economics, “We will have a broader bandwidth in our curriculum and faculty while keeping the core. It will be a great year, with great faculty and great students.”

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