Willamette University Strategic Plan
Goal: To become the Northwest’s leading institution for rigorous, personalized liberal arts and graduate professional education, attractive to students and faculty from across the nation and around the world.
B. Strategic Objectives:
College of Law
Smaller than our Northwest peers, the College of Law is proud of its distinctive intellectual intimacy, academic programs, and commitment to the professional success of our graduates. We will enhance these elements while improving alignment of student experiences with skills demanded by the changing job market, and will work to improve the reputation and position of the College within the national legal academy in order to attract the best students and faculty.
Deliver the highest-quality student experiences:
- Enhance the teaching of practical skills through significantly increasing externship opportunities, encouraging law students to participate for at least one semester before graduation. Specifically, seek formalized partnerships with businesses, law firms, and in-house counsels, and partner with Oregon agencies to develop opportunities in state government and with the Oregon Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and federal judges in Oregon to expand clerkship opportunities for current students and graduates;
- Continue to develop new methods for enhancing student success on bar examinations; and
- Strategically deploy tenured and tenure-track faculty to core and high-enrollment courses to meet student interests and ensure timely progress towards degree, scheduling classes to accommodate student experiential learning opportunities off-campus.
Metrics will include fraction of students with externship experience, bar passage rate, student satisfaction survey, three-year graduation rate.
Expand access for bright, talented students who will contribute to a diverse Willamette community:
- Seek ways to reduce debt at graduation, including exploring ways to allow students to graduate in less time (e.g., summer or evening offerings);
- Immediately begin detailed budgetary, market, and program analysis of non-traditional degree options, including a part-time J.D. program and a one-year Juris Masters (J.M.) program targeting state employees and local business leaders who would benefit from legal training but do not wish to practice law;
- Expand the LL.M program, developing partnerships in China, India, and other emerging markets, to establish a pipeline for foreign-educated lawyers interested in the U.S. legal system. Focus on areas (e.g., commercial law, intellectual property, securities regulation, and U.S. trade law) that have the greatest appeal to foreign-educated lawyers; and
- Develop a fundraising campaign to endow the loan repayment and assistance program for graduates who pursue careers in the public interest.
Metrics will include median LSAT, matriculation rate, multicultural fraction, gender balance, three-year graduation rate, median debt at graduation, net revenue from auxiliary programs reinvested in J.D. core.
Demonstrate the lifelong value of a College of Law degree:
- Increase focus of the Career and Professional Development Center on developing relationships with law firms, alumni, businesses, and government agencies in the Northwest in order to place law students in both summer and post-graduation jobs;
- Develop and invest in a comprehensive marketing and outreach program to highlight the school’s accomplishments and alumni, student, and faculty achievements, as well as the College of Law’s close connection to law and government;
- Enhance the quality of alumni programs and increase alumni participation at all levels by expanding offerings and establishing more informal opportunities, such as an alumni speaker series, for alumni to interact with students and faculty; and
- Consider engaging alumni as instructors of short, practice-oriented courses taught during term or break (and perhaps eventually during a one- or two-week winter term).
Metrics will include fraction of graduates employed in law-related fields at ABA date of record, student satisfaction with career services, and alumni giving fraction.
Cultivate an authentic engagement with place:
- Develop and support cross-school, interdisciplinary partnerships with CLA and AGSM to capitalize on synergies offered by the university environment, and explore co-curricular offerings, further joint degree programs, and joint appointments;
- Continue to focus on the scholarly productivity of the faculty by setting clear expectations and linking salary, summer research grants, research assistance, travel budgets, research leave, and teaching assignments, including reduced or increased teaching loads, to scholarly productivity;
- Improve the overall visibility of the school among academics, lawyers, judges, and prospective students through increased support for conferences, such as the proposed judicial training institute, workshop presentations, speakers, and symposia at Willamette, as well as through encouragement of workshop presentations at other law schools by Willamette faculty. Improve attendance of faculty at on-campus events, such as workshops and conferences;
- Develop a comprehensive marketing program targeted at likely U.S. News and World Report survey recipients to describe and highlight Willamette’s accomplishments in ways that will have a positive impact on the College of Law’s current ranking;
- Enhance connections with state and local governments and strengthen existing special programs connected to law and government — e.g., Oregon Law Commission, Center for Religion, Law & Democracy, Jurist in Residence, and Center for Constitutional Government — seeking national recognition in this area;
- Develop a Center for Judicial Excellence that works with federal and state judges to create cost-effective programs that enhance the educational and career placement opportunities for students and increase the school’s profile regionally and nationally; and
- Partner with other universities in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska on a select basis to extend the 3+3 BA/JD program and develop other regionally distinctive programs.
Metrics will include faculty scholarly quality, U.S. News ranking, relationships with state law and government.