Saturday, June 29, 2013

Vermont Law School cuts faculty by 17% due to declining applications

The move is not entirely unexpected in light of the staff cuts announced last November.  According to a VLS spokesman, these most recent faculty cuts were made through a combination of attrition and converting some full-time positions to part-time.  The downsizing affects both tenure/tenure-track faculty as well as contract faculty which I presume includes legal writing and clinical professors.  Here are the details courtesy of the Tax Prof blog (the story was first reported by the Vermont Digger):

After some correspondence with Peter Glenshaw, Director of Communications at Vermont Law School, I’ve learned that the precise numbers involved are:

(1) Four tenure/tenure-track faculty have gone from full to part-time. Two tenured/tenure track faculty left the school, and their positions were eliminated. Together this represents a 21.4% reduction in the number of full-time tenure track faculty.

(2) Four contract faculty have gone from full to part-time. This represents 13% of the contract faculty. Thus the number of full-time positions on the teaching faculty (TT and contract) has been reduced by 17.2%.

Mr. Glenshaw wishes to emphasize that the eight faculty members who have gone from full-time to part-time status will, in his words, “continue to teach or work at VLS in the coming years. We are thrilled that every faculty member who participated in this voluntary program will remain involved in our community as teachers and educators, and we look forward to their contributions in the coming years.”


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From all the information I have seen, recent cuts at VLS are due to a precipitous drop in **enrollment**, not applications. Last year, I served as a 3L Senator on the VLS Student Bar Association. I was appointed to a special investigatory committee that, among other things, was charged with looking into recent tuition increases at the school, how they had been communicated to the students, and their impact on the school.

What we discovered does not comport entirely with what you has been reported. For instance, Pres Mihaly continues to imply that VLS enrollment declines are tied to the overall drop in applications seen throughout U.S. law schools. We found, in fact, that application rates at VLS had not diminished at all. Rather, even with more lenient admission criteria, fewer ADMITTED students are choosing to enroll.

The question is why.

Our investigation revealed that the genesis of the school's income gap was a decision by the Board of Trustees in 2008 to increase tuition in order to shift more financial assistance from needs-based to merit-based aid in an attempt to game the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Ultimately, the Board's strategy backfired, but not before it had reeked havoc on the school's finances and saddled VLS grads with an enormous amount if debt.

You can read the full report here:

Posted by: Cooper | Jul 1, 2013 3:57:57 AM

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