Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Is there more to Bloom's Taxonomy?
"Frequently overlooked in legal education is the psychomotor domain of Bloom’s taxonomy. The learning objectives in this domain concern the learning of the body, physical education in the broadest sense of the term. In legal education, psychomotor learning objectives can help law students learn how their bodies support their mental work, how their bodies communicate, and how other people’s bodies are communicating to them. This article explores the reasons why law professors should consider including in their lesson plans some learning objectives within the psychomotor domain and how they might do so."
Monday, July 16, 2018
Take a break from your (totally justified) Trump "freak-out" and peruse the latest issue of Perspectives: Teaching Legal Writing and Research out now and edited by yours truly (I know what you're thinking: "How is it possible for one man to be so fabuloso? So much talent! So much energy! Incroyable!).
In this issue you'll learn, among other things: What, exactly, is "Ally Theater?" How will Artificial Intelligence change the LRW classroom? Advice for increasing professionalism among students. Tips for improving students legal research skills when it comes to real world practice. How to use films and TV to teach students persuasive fact techniques. All that and more - including our fantastico micro essays that answer the burning question: "What is your desert island database?" Just click on the links below and you will be instantly transported to a sublime reading and learning experience!
Teaching Legal Research and Writing
Vol. 26, No. 1
Download Complete Issue
(PDF document 233KB)
Emily A. Bishop
(PDF document 285KB)
Michele Bradley and Nancy Oliver
(PDF document 202KB)
Anne E. Mullins
(PDF document 138KB)
(PDF document 164KB)
James B. Levy
(PDF document 158KB)
Kimberly Y. W. Holst
Sunday, July 15, 2018
It's called Westlaw Edge. I haven't test-driven it or even seen it yet so for right now I have to rely on TR's press release for an explanation about what it can do. Based on that, however, it's not clear to me that Westlaw Edge is something we'll be be introducing in 1L LRW where we're teaching students the very basics of Boolean searches. Westlaw Edge appears to be a much more sophisticated tool aimed at practitioners and students in advanced legal research courses. Here's the press release from TR so you can decide for yourself whether you'll be incorporating this new AI research tool into class this fall:
Thomson Reuters Unveils New Legal Research Platform with Advanced AI: Westlaw Edge
Powerful artificial intelligence – built upon more than 100 years of editorial enhancements – drives search and next-gen analytics, bringing speed, insight and confidence
MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, July 12, 2018 – Thomson Reuters today introduced Westlaw Edge, the latest advancement in legal research, providing legal professionals with the next generation of AI-driven legal search, exclusive new warnings for law that is no longer valid, unrivaled litigation analytics, and sophisticated new research tools that help legal professionals deliver results to clients faster and more accurately.
Law firms today are competing with each other to provide high-quality results at a lower cost to meet client expectations for efficiency. In Thomson Reuters ongoing research with customers, its analysis shows that complex legal research tasks take an average of six hours, with some taking much longer. Lawyers also report that with deadline-driven work, they often worry they may have missed something important. “We’ve been working with hundreds of attorneys to deeply understand how some research tasks can still take many hours to complete, as well as how mistakes are made, even by experienced lawyers,” said Mike Dahn, senior vice president, Westlaw Product Management.
“We brought together a team of Thomson Reuters research scientists with expertise in AI and legal data with our attorneys who best understand our exclusive collection of law summaries, legal classifications and legal citation relationships, and had them work with our most talented product designers to address the areas where both new lawyers and experienced practitioners want better tools,” added Dahn. “The result is Westlaw Edge.”
Introducing Westlaw Edge
Westlaw Edge, the new version of Westlaw, enables lawyers to move through routine work much faster and helps even experienced practitioners avoid mistakes when working on something complex, while offering attorneys new insights they’ve never had access to before. Westlaw Edge represents Thomson Reuters largest investment in AI since 2010 and was developed with attorneys and technologists at the Thomson Reuters Center for Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing in Toronto working side by side. In this way, state-of-the-art AI technologies could be specifically tuned to attorney-authored content and powerful legal research tools, including the West Key Number System and KeyCite.
The new research capabilities of Westlaw Edge include:
- Exclusive Warnings for Invalid or Questionable Law. Modern citators that put warnings on overturned or invalidated cases are essential for research, since checking the validity of cases can take hours longer without them. But a major limitation of these citators is that they have almost exclusively addressed explicit citing relationships only, where one court overrules or invalidates the law in a prior case.
Based on sophisticated machine learning and natural language processing techniques, the new KeyCite Overruling Risk symbols in Westlaw Edge warn researchers of cases that have been invalidated implicitly, and the new symbols link researchers to the up-to-date law that contains the invalidating language.
- WestSearch Plus is a next-generation legal search engine that uses state-of-the-art AI to guide lawyers to answers to legal questions much faster. The first of its kind, WestSearch Plus uses machine learning, natural language processing, citation networks, and Thomson Reuters proprietary taxonomy of the law – the West Key Number System – to bring back the relevant documents researchers are seeking, and it also provides answers to thousands of types of legal questions in seconds.
- Integrated Litigation Analytics enable legal professionals to quickly view relevant insights on judges, courts, attorneys and law firms to help guide the best trial strategy; inform litigation timelines, resource needs and budgets; and allow for faster, more sophisticated legal research. No other legal analytics tool has as much data or as many practice areas across both state and federal courts. Litigation Analytics covers dockets for every federal case type, except bankruptcy, and it includes almost 8 million federal cases and motion analytics for 13 types of federal motions, as well as expert challenge reports.
- Statutes Compare enables researchers to see all statutory language changes with just a click of a button, and it is available for both federal and state statutes. The tool can be used to understand legislative intent for litigation or to advise clients how their business operations might need to change based on revisions in the statutes.
Multiple Am Law 100 firms, including Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Shearman & Sterling and Locke Lord, have already started using Westlaw Edge. According to Wendy Butler Curtis, Orrick’s chief innovation officer, “As part of our innovation strategy, we are continually looking at new ways to streamline processes, adopt technologies and empower our teams. Westlaw Edge is an important part of our innovation toolkit.”
Thomson Reuters has used AI and machine learning-based tools in products for more than 25 years to solve specific problems for lawyers. According to Khalid Al-Kofahi, vice president of Research & Development and head of its Center for Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing, Thomson Reuters AI relies on three key ingredients: content, subject matter expertise and technology expertise. “Content is key. It is what customers come to us for in the first place, and it is what we use to train our algorithms. In the case of our attorney-authored editorial enhancements, it’s the most valuable metadata to help us design algorithms that mimic legal researchers,” said Al-Kofahi. “Our subject matter experts – both attorneys and scientists – ensure that we design optimal solutions to the right set of problems.”
On top of the natural patterns that appear in the law, Thomson Reuters attorney editors have integrated advanced editorial analysis and other enhancements. “By tuning our AI to the West Key Number System, citation networks and other attorney-authored content, our legal and technology experts have created something that no other legal research provider relying on AI and raw data alone could ever make, allowing machines to connect related information and documents to find answers even when search terms don’t match the language used in the original court document,” added Al-Kofahi.
“Westlaw Edge is full of breathtaking science, and the AI and machine learning components build perfectly upon our previous innovations and exclusive legal expertise,” added Dahn. “With Westlaw Edge, legal professionals can conduct legal research more quickly than ever before and uncover valuable new insights, giving them greater confidence when filing court documents or advising clients.”
For more information about Westlaw Edge, visit WestlawEdge.com.
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Richard Arum, dean of the University of California-Irvine’s School of Education and co-author of 2011's blockbuster Academically Adrift, says that U.S. undergraduate education is "failing and declining" because students are not studying nearly enough. He cites several studies that show students are spending on average only 12-13 hours per week prepping for classes which is about half of what students used to spend in 1960 by way of comparison. And a third of college students spend less than an hour studying per day. Yikes. Dean Arum lays part of the blame at faculty for failing to sufficiently inspire students.
Why does this matter to readers of this blog? Because legal educators should be concerned about the studying habits of incoming law students at a time when bar pass rates are hitting all time lows (here, here and here). If the trend identified by Dean Arum holds, it does not portend well for law schools. Check out more of Dean Arum's remarks here via TimesHigherEducation.com (signing up for a free subscription may be required). In the meantime, an excerpt:
Leading sociologist says that universities’ failure to enthuse students is to blame for low levels of study outside the classroom
Undergraduate education is “declining and failing” in US universities because students are not studying enough outside the classroom, an influential educationalist has claimed.
Speaking at Times Higher Education’s inaugural Teaching Excellence Summit, Richard Arum, dean of the University of California, Irvine’s School of Education, blamed falling levels of independent study by students on institutions, stating that they are failing to enthuse students to study or inspire them to prepare for lectures and seminars.
Professor Arum – co-author of the controversial 2011 book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, which sparked worldwide debate on the quality of university learning outcomes – told delegates at the University of Glasgow that recent studies showed that US undergraduates were studying for just 12 to 13 hours a week on average in 2016. This is roughly half the level in 1960, when students committed an average of about 25 hours a week to independent study.
“A third of college students say they spend less than an hour studying alone a day,” said Professor Arum, who underlined that the “academic engagement of students is very low."
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Continue reading here.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Professor Deborah Merritt has posted her third article on the case method on the Law School Cafe. In this article, she questions how well students are taught to read cases. She bases her article on a study that concludes that law students rate poorly at case reading skills.
"Student performance in the Evensen study was distinctly mediocre. On average, first-semester law students answered just eight out of fourteen questions (57%) correctly; second-semester students fared no better. Nor did case-reading skills improve after the first year: Students in the third and sixth semesters of law school continued to average less than 60% on this test of case-reading skills. As Evensen and her colleagues concluded, 'it looks as though our students’ case-reading abilities need attention.'"
She concludes, "Despite any caveats, the results of the Evensen study are alarming. The ability to read cases is a basic skill that all law schools purport to teach: We devote a considerable portion of the curriculum to reading and analyzing cases. Yet the average student in the Evensen study reached only a basic level of case reading proficiency–and failed to improve over three years of law school." She also notes, "Other studies, unfortunately, suggest that law schools fall short in teaching other types of critical thinking." She adds, "If this type of mediocrity marks contemporary legal education, we need to know that–and we have to figure out ways to improve. Law schools will not serve clients–or continue to attract students–if we don’t live up to our claim of teaching students how to 'think like a lawyer.'"
I heard one of the authors of the study speak at a conference over ten years ago. What troubled me the most from his presentation was that law students do very poorly at synthesizing cases. This skill wasn't widely taught at the time of the conference, and it still isn't today. Law professors need to teach case synthesis in every first-year class so that law students become proficient in this skill.
At least in certain practice areas. From HartfordBusiness.com:
Ryan Powell is among thousands of recent law graduates studying for July's multistate bar exam, but like many other Connecticut pupils, he isn't worried about finding a job.
That's because Powell, 26, has already accepted an employment offer from Goldberg Segalla, a corporate law firm located in downtown Hartford. And he's not alone. Of the 153 students who recently graduated from UConn's Hartford law school, about 115 pupils (or 77 percent) said they landed a job by commencement.
Industry experts say the legal job market for recent grads has stabilized and begun to rebound in certain practice areas over the last two years after suffering a blow during and following the Great Recession. Consequently, Connecticut's three law schools are reporting high rates of student employment following graduation.
Some larger firms have been expanding and looking to recruit more diverse candidates to meet client needs, says Michael Menapace, new president of the 1,800-member Hartford County Bar Association. Firms are looking to recruit, hire and retain more diverse junior associates than ever before, he says.
"Because clients are demanding better diversity … firms are responding," Menapace said. "Attracting and retaining them is a big issue amongst law firms right now."
Graduates are also fortunate that firms are adding lawyers to accommodate growing practice areas such as cybersecurity, data protection, labor, employment, employee retirement and health care, said Menapace, who is also a Quinnipiac law professor and parter of Wiggin and Dana LLP.
Still, smaller firms in Connecticut aren't growing as fast due to the state's limp economy, he said.
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Continue reading here.
Monday, July 9, 2018
Professor Deborah Merritt is writing several posts on how law schools teach first-year law students. As I mentioned last week, she is very critical of the case method.
Her second post (here) is on Quimbee, an online service that contains an extensive database of canned case briefs for law students.
Professor Merritt notes that many law students probably use Quimbee's canned briefs. This is frightening to me. Case analysis is a cognitive fundamental for lawyers. If students take a short cut by using canned briefs, they will not be able to do more complicated skills effectively.
She writes, "But case reading is not an all-or-nothing skill. It is like playing an instrument: you get better if you practice. Students who read judicial opinions throughout law school almost certainly read opinions more effectively than those who rely upon Quimbee."
She adds, "Even more worrisome, case briefs and other study aids shortcut the critical thinking skills that the case method was designed to teach. It’s much harder to read a judicial opinion than a case brief–and that’s the point. Law schools have relied on the case method to teach students careful, critical reading; analogical reasoning; and the recognition of patterns that lurk below a court’s language. Students learn some of those skills by reading case briefs and following class discussion, but they don’t sharpen those skills as much as professors believe."
Who is to blame for this? "It’s easy to blame “lazy” students or “profit-hungry” publishers for this state of affairs, but the fault lies with legal educators. We’ve rarely tested students in a way that rewards actual case analysis. Nor have we kept up with the times."
I will continue to comment on Professor Merritt's posts as she posts new ones.
Sunday, July 8, 2018
If you're part masochist who'd like to vicariously relive the stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation associated with the final weeks of bar prep, then be sure to check out this story from Law.com that collects several posts from the Twittersphere in which recent law grads studying for the exam vent. It's a good reminder that no matter how lousy your summer may be going, at least you don't have to deal with that again.
Saturday, July 7, 2018
The Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report released yesterday (Friday) shows that the legal sector got a significant bump in June by adding 4,800 jobs. The BLS also revised (as it often does after more data comes in) the job report for May which had originally shown a net loss of 200 jobs but now reflects a gain of 300. The monthly BLS legal sector job reports include multiple job categories within the legal services industry like paralegal and legal secretary in addition to lawyers. You can check out the raw data from BLS's June report here (scroll down to "legal services" under the category "Professional and Business Services"). The National Law Journal has a detailed summary here.
Friday, July 6, 2018
These are mostly common sense (i.e. do your most important studying during the part of the day when you're at your best, eliminate distractions while studying, take breaks, etc.). Nonetheless, it's always worth repeating and emphasizing the basics of a good study routine (though I disagree with the part about leaning on your particular learning style since, as we've written about before (here, here and here), there's no evidence to support that theory).
Anyway, for our student readers or for profs who's like to pass this along to their students in the home-stretch of bar prep, here you go.
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Apropos to this July 4th holiday week, the University of South Carolina School of Law just opened a new legal clinic to provide free legal services to veterans. Law students will get a chance to practice advising clients on a number of issues pertinent to veterans including estate planning, accessing benefits and family law practice. Experiential learning whilst doing good. Bravo.
And Happy July 4th to our readers.
The Strange Case of the Case Method by Deborah Jones Merritt.
"I doubt that the method ever achieved as much as it claims, except perhaps for the highest achieving students in a classroom. Today, the method has been quietly subverted to accomplish primarily the fifth goal: instructing students on doctrinal principles. Law schools stake their value on teaching the other four cognitive skills listed above, but we deliver less of that learning than we believe."
Monday, July 2, 2018
Do you know about "spaced retrieval practice" to help students improve long term learning and exam performance?
This advice comes from an influential research study published back in 2013 in the Educational Psychology Review which I was recently reminded of via the Twitter feed of cognitive science professor Daniel Willingham. The resulting article is called The Power of Successive Relearning: Improving Performance on Course Exams and Long-Term Retention. It suggests a student study and testing strategy that combines the following techniques for improved retention and exam performance:
- Making meaningful connections for students between the new material being learned and the concepts they already know.
- Have students engage in retrieval practice - to maintain the information and make it accessible, learners should practice by attempting to recall that information.
- Allow for "spaced practice" - to make the practice effortful and effective, distribute student practice repetitions over time.
Researchers call their technique "Spaced Retrieval Practice" and it consists of having students both practice learning the material over carefully spaced intervals and well as practice retrieving it via testing or similar techniques also at spaced intervals. The study found that students who both engaged in repeated practice and retrieval performed better on exams than those who merely engaged in repeated practice or studied their own way. The spacing of the practice and retrieval opportunities seems to be key insofar as it requires more effortful engagement with the material on the part of students which leads to longer lasting retention and learning.
Saturday, June 30, 2018
The Pace Women’s Justice Center opened its new walk-in clinic at The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 25.
The 4,000-square-foot facility is on Pace’s North Broadway campus in White Plains in what had been the Student Life Center. Cost of the project was $1.5 million, with funding coming from Pace and private donors, including a $100,000 grant from Impact 100.
A ceremony before the ribbon cutting was addressed by state Sens. Andrea Stewart- Cousins, Shelly Mayer and David Buchwald, along with Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Ben Boykin. Administrative Judge Kathie Davidson of New York’s Ninth Judicial District spoke, as did Jill Gross, associate dean for academic affairs at the Pace Law School. The event was hosted by Cindy Kanusher, executive director of PWJC.
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Continue reading here.
Friday, June 29, 2018
Cleveland-Marshall launches new "tech lab" to teach students, alumns, and lawyers about blockchain and artificial intelligence
Cleveland State University's Cleveland-Marshall College of Law opened a new technology lab on Wednesday which looks to educate students, alumni and lawyers on new concepts like blockchain and artificial intelligence.
Beginning this school year, the center -- dubbed the C|M|LAW Tech Lab -- will launch the only law-school based interdisciplinary Cybersecurity and Data Privacy certificate, and a new C|M|LAW Tech certificate.
Officials hope that the lab can provide new opportunities for lawyers to become familiar with different technologies and how they can use them in their practice.
Staying in step with new tech can be difficult for law professionals; The American Bar Association has different publications and a whole section of their website dedicated to resources for it.
Dean Lee Fisher did not immediately return call for comment.
The lab, housed in the law school's library, was created in partnership with Technology Concepts & Design, Inc. (TCDI), a legal services software company headquartered in North Carolina.
"This unique on-campus program will help train the next generation of legal professionals and provide our clients with an alternative to costly services including document review, exhibits coding and legal research," said CEO Bill Johnson.
The lab will also offer:
- A "Distinguished Technologist-in-Residence" program
- The eDiscovery Online Professional Certificate Program, one of the first targeted at the growing field of legal support professionals
- A "Continuing Legal Education" series with programs on current technology topics including cybersecurity, blockchain and the "Internet of Things," which refers to devices wirelessly connected that send data to one another
- New courses in artificial intelligence, privacy law and management, blockchain and legal technology entrepreneurship
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Continue reading here.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
This article is from the summer 2018 Harvard Law Bulletin and profiles four different clinical programs that offer students a great experiential legal experience.
Nearly 40 years ago, Harvard Law School pioneers in clinical education Gary Bellow ’60 and Jeanne Charn ’70 launched the school’s Legal Services Center in a house in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. In its earliest incarnation, 24 students were enrolled.
Bellow passed away in 2000, but before that, he and Charn, now a senior lecturer on law at HLS, established the Legal Services Center in a commodious complex in Jamaica Plain. Today, more than 82 percent of the HLS Class of 2018 have participated in at least one clinic and 43 percent participated in two or more. The WilmerHale Legal Services Center, as it is now known, and the clinical wing of the newer WCC building on campus buzz with the creativity and commitment of students, faculty, and clients.
With 29 clinics in a wide range of fields of law and policy, students develop skills in an experiential program that constantly adapts to their interests, as well as to new approaches and areas of the law. They may choose domestic or international projects and focus on direct services, policy, litigation, or transactional work. Opportunities range from representing military veterans in the Veterans Law and Disability Benefits Clinic, to examining the First Amendment implications of online communications in the Cyberlaw Clinic, to working with the Navajo Nation through the Food Law and Policy Clinic.
“Our clinics have a particular power because students aren’t mere interns or simply second-chairing cases—we are grooming them for leadership in the world,” says Clinical Professor Daniel Nagin, vice dean for experiential and clinical education and faculty director of the WilmerHale Legal Services Center. A significant number of alumni from the International Human Rights Clinic have gone on to become leaders in human rights organizations, for example, and other clinics demonstrate similar influence.
Over 1,000 students enrolled in clinics this past year, either at one of 18 in-house clinics supervised by clinical faculty or through 11 externship clinics, including one that is focused on the role of state attorneys general, which, in an era rife with debate over states’ rights, is in huge demand. Some 700 students engaged in pro bono work through one of the 11 in-house Student Practice Organizations, which assist clients from Cambridge to the Mississippi Delta.
The HLS clinical program is one of the largest providers of free legal services in New England. In Boston and Cambridge alone, 3,556 clients were served in 2016, and hundreds more were represented in other parts of the state and country, and internationally.
While J.D. students are required to work 50 pro bono hours before graduation, the Class of 2018 put in 376,532 pro bono hours, an average of 637 hours per student. Since 2005, HLS students have provided 4.475 million hours of pro bono legal services to people in need.
“The level of expertise of the faculty and staff, the incredible students, and the phenomenal resources of the law school allow us to be a nimble program that can respond to the needs of clients and, more broadly, to the rule of law in the world,” says Lisa Dealy, assistant dean for Clinical and Pro Bono Programs.
For a glimpse of the clinics today, here are accounts of four projects connected to pressing legal and social issues: environmental protection, gentrification of low-income neighborhoods, immigrants’ rights, and prisoners’ rights in an age of mass incarceration.
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Continue reading here.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Patricia Baia, Teaching to The Smart Phone (iGen) Generation
"Teaching to the iGen (iGeneration, Plurals or Generation Z, born between 1995-2012, the generation after Millennials/GenerationY) is upon us and the rapid growth in mobile technologies has caused their understanding of the lines between academic, professional, and personal uses to be blurred. Legal educators interested in engaging this generation and increasing their learning can spend some time reflecting on their characteristics and experimenting with new teaching tools outlined below."
"Set against history, the standards’ language allows the inference then that competent and ethical membership in the profession – professional identity – is “fair personal character” and something in addition to “ethics” – the minimum standard of conduct and professionalism or civility. Professional identity needs to include the internalized ability and willingness to both be aware of one’s own perspective and its effect as well as to consider and assign value to societal consequences. This combination of private and professional character would be in line with that suggested by Holmes and Cardozo. A lawyer’s habitual awareness of perspective and its effect, followed by intentional decision-making coupled with an attitude of respect toward others and the legal system seem a good starting point as components of professional identity."
Sunday, June 24, 2018
The LSAC is reporting that as of 6/15/18, law school applicants are up 8.1% from last year at this time while applications are up 8.9% from 2017-2018. In total, 376,968 law school applications have been submitted by 58,000 applicants. The LSAC notes that as of this time last year, it had 95% of the preliminary final applicant count. Check out the data at LSAC's website here.
Indiana's Valparaiso School of Law has been on a death watch ever since university officials announced last fall that it would no longer be accepting student applications. But now comes word from Middle Tennessee State University that Valpo may be moving to the Volunteer State. The non-binding letter of intent signed by the schools doesn't indicate that MTSU will be buying Valpo but instead that it will be "gifted" to it. If the transfer goes through, it would make Valpo-MTSU Tennessee's seventh law school (including Duncan which thus far has failed to receive ABA accreditation). Tennessee has a population of approximately 6.7 million and ranks 20th in terms of state population. From the Daily News Journal:
Middle Tennessee State University has secured a non-binding letter of intent with Valparaiso University to transfer the Indiana institution's law school to Murfreesboro, President Sidney A. McPhee said.
Founded in 1879, the Valparaiso Law School has approximately 235 students and is accredited by the American Bar Association.
In order for the transfer to take place, approval would be needed from each university's governing boardsand the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, according to a news release from MTSU.
“Our exploration of this proposal is in keeping with MTSU’s tradition and strategic priority of pursuing innovative partnerships that create meaningful opportunities for our students, our region and our state,” McPhee said in the news release.
Valparaiso University is located in a northwest Indiana town by the same name.
A university spokeswoman did not provide any additional details about the agreement when contacted Friday afternoon.. . . .
Continue reading here.