Date: February 2, 2010
Department: News & Public Information
This is an extraordinary day for the University of Massachusetts and especially for UMass Dartmouth! Just a few minutes ago the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education unanimously approved our proposal to offer the Juris Doctor Degree at UMass Dartmouth's School of Law. For the first time in the Commonwealth's history, citizens will have an affordable, high quality public choice for attending law school and it will be in southeastern Massachusetts.
As a part of our vision for growth and responsiveness to regional and Commonwealth needs, the law program represents a major step forward. While we may still be the smallest of the UMass campuses, we are carefully and consistently embracing innovation and creating opportunity for our faculty, staff and students to demonstrate the quality of their work and the difference it can make in the lives of individuals and communities.
We are very grateful for the bold action of the Southern New England School of Law Board of Trustees in "giving themselves away" in order to bring their full mission and goals to life. These public-spirited citizens want to see an excellent, effective, "best practice" law school serve the region and the Commonwealth, and they have been willing to sacrifice their own identity to achieve their dreams. Their tenacity and their vision should be noted and applauded, and we certainly look forward to welcoming their faculty, staff and students to UMass Dartmouth.
This has been a very long and difficult approval process because it is a "first" and because of the opposition of some private law schools. We are very grateful for the leadership of President Wilson and all the staff at the System office who put us through a rigorous review and whose leadership helped us strengthen our proposal. We had the strong support of all the Chancellors of our sister campuses even when the debate was sometimes heated and it would have been easier to be silent. We are indebted always to our Board of Trustees for their future-oriented vision, their focus on quality, and their vote of confidence in us.
We are grateful for the tenacious leadership of trustee and alumnus Jim Karam who always speaks out with intelligence and common sense and is never deterred by challenge. We appreciate greatly the support and partnership of the Faculty Senate and the Law School Implementation Task Force whose members are helping us shape a successful transition.
We were sustained by the staunch and consistent strong voices of all the members of our legislative delegation who have been there with us at every step. We appreciate the fair, open and transparent review we received this time at the Board of Higher Education. We also appreciate the encouragement and support of our Governor Deval Patrick who has consistently challenged us to be responsive to the emerging needs of our community.
None of this would have been possible without a core campus/SNESL team that included Provost Tony Garro, Vice Chancellor Deb McLaughlin, Associate Vice Chancellor Bill Mitchell, Assistant Chancellors Richard Panofsky, Paul Vigeant and John Hoey, as well as Southern New England's Dean Robert Ward, Chair Marty Xifaras, Associate Dean Mike Hillenger, Professor Irene Scharf and many, many supporting staff. There were hours and hours of work while all the other campus tasks also had to be handled. We are fortunate to have a group of people with talent, patience, and determination to see all the detail through to a successful outcome.
The work is just beginning, but today marks an historic moment for the University and we should be proud that once again we have the opportunity to "break new ground" in the service of the Commonwealth and the nation. Let's celebrate this milestone achievement and then get to work making the University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth something we all take great pride in.
Chancellor Jean MacCormack