Well, it’s been a week since we had you over to our place. We’ve spent time cleaning up, putting the furniture back in place and doing the dishes. All those dishes…who’d have thought entertaining 200 people would be so exhausting. I’ve also had time to think about those few days you spent with us and here are some random musings.
1. Will our entering class be 220-strong? I’ve heard that this rumor was floating around over the weekend. Unless ALL of you at the weekend accept our offer, this will not happen. Put any concern you might have about SLS getting any larger to rest. 180 suits us just fine.
2. I was asked an interesting question about our admissions policy. Will Dean Kramer’s departure signal a change in the way we review files and make decisions? Specifically, will we become a school that places a great deal of emphasis on the numbers rather than looking at the entire file? My initial reaction to the question was one of curiosity. Why the concern for policy when you’re in and all is good? But, then I put on my big picture glasses and realized why the question was being asked. The student wanted to be a part of the community that our admissions process had put together and a change to those policies could signal a change in the kinds of students who were admitted and who chose to attend. Well, no need to worry. I’ve worked closely with three deans (Brest, Sullivan and Kramer) and not once in all the years of collaboration did we ever think about doing things any differently. I have no doubt that the incoming dean – from inside SLS or from outside SLS – will see any reason to change our course. What do we have to gain in comparison to all that we’d lose?
3. This dovetails nicely with a question I was asked dealing with change. As many of you may have heard, Dean Kramer is leaving us to become the head of the Hewlett Foundation. With his departure, will the school rethink its direction or back away from the reforms that have taken place during his deanship? Dare I say that the changes at SLS are bigger than the man himself? As he would be the first person to tell you, these were developed and implemented by and with the support of the whole community—faculty, alumni, students, and staff—after an engaged conversation about what we could and should do to keep SLS at the forefront of legal education. SLS remains fully committed to its interdisciplinary focus. We remain fully committed to the idea of collaboration and cross-pollination with other departments and schools on campus. We remain fully committed to experiential learning, to fostering innovation among and by and with our students, and to doing all this in the unique ways we do. Dean Kramer leaving will not alter this course.
A good question to ask is what will we do between now and when his successor is named? A search committee is being formed, and that committee will include student representation. Students are right now in the process of selecting their voice for the committee, which is expected to start meeting before the summer. We’ll have the benefit of Dean Kramer’s guidance through the end of the summer, and an interim dean will take over his responsibilities if a successor has not yet been chosen.
Another good question to ask is whether you’ll get the chance to interact with Dean Kramer down the road? Guess what? He’ll be back to teach – not in your first year, for sure, but he’ll be back and rumor has it that he’s branching out and will teach other things in addition to Constitutional Law.
4. Some of you have inquired about being assigned to particular professors for fall quarter classes for a variety of reasons – you went to their home for dessert, you hit it off in a discussion after a panel, your area of interest overlaps with theirs, etc. Sorry to say, assignments are all done in a somewhat random fashion. Of course, I do a balancing act to adjust for gender, age, backgrounds and other factors. Imagine if we ended up with all the hard science PhDs in the same small section or all the Duke undergrads (insert any college name here) congregating in one group. And, you know what? It doesn’t matter if you’re not assigned to your dream professor’s section. You will make the connection without my assignment. That, I can guarantee. So, just to be clear, no need to send me books by my favorite author, a case of Diet Coke or anything else you think I might enjoy – there is no need for them.
5. Who in the world is Ryan Lee? He showed up on Sunday at the registration table and asked to sign in. We did not have a packet with his name on in it, but no problem on our end. We always make up extras for those few admits who show up without RSVPing. We didn’t question him when he said who he was – who signs in as an admit if they’re really not an admit? Well, apparently Ryan Lee does. He picked up a blank nametag, wrote his name on it and then headed off to a panel. Go figure. So, for those of you who are planning to walk through our doors come August, be on the lookout for Ryan. He might just show up for a class.
6. Deadlines are approaching and you’ve got some thinking to do. I’ll leave you alone to your thoughts and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that you’ll choose wisely.