Here's a bit of big law school news. The administrations of Texas A&M and Texas Wesleyan Universities announced today that Texas A&M is acquiring Texas Wesleyan's law school. Texas A&M is paying Texas Wesleyan $25 million in the sale. Texas Wesleyan will keep the buildings and will lease them back to the law school. The change will take effect by fall 2013.
This is interesting for a host of reasons. First, it is clear power maneuver by A&M, allowing the big state U to open the first public law school in North Texas just as the University of North Texas is about to open next door in Dallas. And make no mistake: the A&M brand is going to be a brutal competitor for UNT. But it's not just a matter of UNT. This is going to have an impact on other Texas law schools as well, particularly if the school adopts a public tuition.
Second, this is a fabulous gain for Texas Wesleyan faculty, students and alumni. With the support of this major university, and with the benefit of its name, the school will instantly soar in popularity. If there is a shake-out in legal education, the Fort Worth law school has moved from a challenging position to a powerful one. And then there is the related matter of US News rankings. If the Penn State and Michigan State examples provide any insight, the mere attachment of a new name will have a significant effect on reputational numbers. A significantly improved ranking will likely follow.
Certain state approvals remain to be had. And we don't have details yet about whether the school will shift to in-state tuition.
One final curiousity: the new name will be the Texas A&M School of Law at Texas Wesleyan University. Quite a turn of events for what used to be the DFW School of Law!