UMass Trustees Consider Putting the Only Public Law School in Massachusetts at Dartmouth

UMass Trustees Consider Putting the Only Public Law School in Massachusetts at Dartmouth

UMass Trustees Consider Putting the Only Public Law School in Massachusetts at Dartmouth

Felicia Whatley

Debate about a pricy new public law school at UMass Dartmouth heated up this semester when New England School of Law offered to give all its assets to UMass free of charge. However, with the NE School of Law closing because of financial difficulties, Trustees are reluctant to commit to a project that could cost UMass money it does not have.

Luckily, Southern New England School of Law is proposing to merge into the UMass system and is ready to donate about $22.6 million in cash assets to help provide an affordable, yet competitive, state school law school for MA. In addition to serving as a boon for the state, this merger also allows SNESL to continue its mission, as stated by board of trustees chair Margaret D. Xifaras. to “provide affordable, accessible, and excellent legal education to a diverse group of students who might not otherwise have this opportunity.”

The law school would be different than the other ten law schools in the state by specializing in areas such as non-profit for public service law, international law, and internet law, said UMB Student Trustee Tara DeSisto

If the merger happens, the Law school at Dartmouth would be the first public law school in Massachusetts, and some UMB students are excited about the possibility of having affordable access to law school.

“We should have a state run law school. It will generate more job opportunities in the law field and will be affordable for students to go to law school, who usually could not afford it,” said Political Science Senior George Malett.

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said that the offer is extremely generous, and hopes the merger happens.

“We have a wonderful chance to expand higher education opportunity in Massachusetts by accepting this historic donation and building an innovative public law school that offers an excellent and affordable education for students,” he said.

Massachusetts is one of 13 states that do not have a public law school.

“This law school would give recognition to our state. It’s a pipeline for students who are in the UMass system. This almost happened three years ago, but the private school advocates won the debate,” said DeSisto.

Many UMass Boston students and administrators express their support of the idea despite controversial criticism recently published in the Globe. UMass President Jack Wilson said that he wants officials at UMass Dartmouth to review the relevant academic financial and legal ramifications, and then have the UMass system’s officials review the process.

“The idea that University of Massachusetts would have a law school would be a positive thing. This would be good for students who can’t afford to go to a private law school. It is good idea to have a public option,” said Dean of Students Marita Labedz Poll.

Expansion during economic difficulties can be tricky, but the university can expand. It is good for the student community and as a representative for the student body I will advocate for this. This is an economic friendly law school. This is one more thing to offer students, said Poll.

One of the arguments against the proposal is that it is still too expensive to invest in.

“I’m interested to see how it plays out. This is one of the most controversial things I have seen so far as a trustee,” said DeSisto.