March 13, 2012
In that time of year when the daylight hours grow longer,US News & World Reportreleases its annual rankings of graduate schools.
While University of California Hastings College of the Law received the same overall score this year as last, our rank is now listed as #44 compared to #42 previously. On the positive side, our “assessment score by lawyers/judges” has increased, meaning our reputation with bench and bar nationwide is better than many of our peers and comparable to more elite schools. In addition, our Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution (CNDR) is now ranked at #9 in the country, up from #10 last year.
When I started as Chancellor & Dean, I created a Rankings Task Force to generate an action plan. They engaged in a thorough study of the relevant statistics, and we have already implemented many of their proposals, such as adjusting slightly our admissions criteria to weigh undergraduate grade point average more appropriately.
Our institutional commitment is to be as aggressive as we can in addressing rankings, because we know how much they affect everything else. Yet we also have insisted that we will be responsible, pursuing changes that are intrinsically worthwhile for our students and not submitting data that is dishonest.
All of the trends affecting us adversely in the rankings are attributable to our enormous scale. Our student-faculty ratio, for example, has improved slightly, but it remains among the worst of all institutions within the top 50 ranked schools.
Thus the strategic planning process has embraced the conclusion that is crucial to our future: Our entering class size for the JD program must be reduced. This necessity has become all the more apparent with the profound changes in the legal marketplace. Accordingly, I've directed that we enroll approximately 20% fewer 1L students this fall -- a reduction of an entire section. We have also been making corresponding changes to our staffing, implementing the strategic planning priorities.
We must do more. As the first law school of the American West, we have always played a leadership role. I am determined to demonstrate that legal education can be reformed. UC Hastings will be the model institution, with your support.
-Frank H. Wu, Chancellor and Dean
Alex A.G. Shapiro