The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday August 17th

More than rankings: Thorp's decision to make law school a priority deserves a closer look

Among this year's priorities that Chancellor Thorp recently outlined was support for the School of Law.

He defended his priorities as issues that needed his urgent attention. But the decision to make the law school such a distinct priority deserves a closer look.

At least part of the reason cited for the law school decision was that alumni were grumbling because of the school's recent drop in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.

The school was 27th in the 2006 rankings but now stands at 38th.

Yet how can these rankings even enter into a legitimate criteria for change when they are so clearly flawed?

The factor that receives the most weight in the formula is a grade of all the schools on a scale of one to five done by law faculty members around the country.

Even Jack Boger dean of the law school has criticized the rankings to the Daily Tar Heel.

Further" it's unclear who the ""worried alumni"" are and if their concern goes beyond this one ranking.

The alumni participation rate for giving to the law school rose this year from 22.3 to 23.6 percent. In fact" for the 2007-08 fiscal year the law school had the second highest alumni participation rate among UNC graduate schools.

Also the law school exceeded its goal of $30 million in donations through the Carolina First campaign.

And last year 92 percent of students taking the bar exam for the first time passed — the school's highest number in the last 10 years. (This receives only a small consideration in the rankings formula).

When determining how to improve the law school it's important to look at more in depth criteria — not simply the rankings.

For example the law school says it wants to hire more faculty improve support to students and also focus on the new building at Carolina North.

We're not suggesting that the law school should be ignored or that it is not important.

But there are other basic criteria with which alumni and the chancellor should evaluate the progress of the law school and determine UNC's priorities.


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