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June 26, 2012

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Alfred Brophy

Very interesting and exciting for everyone. Remind me, Dan, didn't A&M try to acquire another school a few years back? Also, $25M sounds like a hefty price tag. Why would A&M acquire rather than open its own school? Does this largely represent the value of ABA approval?

Alfred Brophy

Following up on my last comment now that I've had a chance to look around the net: A&M signed an "affiliation agreement" with South Texas back in 1998. That ended in 2001 following protracted litigation. The Dallas Morning News article you link to reveals that the Texas Wesleyan acquisition must still be approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board -- which was where the A&M-South Texas affiliation met opposition.

roger dennis

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-court-of-appeals/1342998.html

here is the story from a litigation perspective, what will the coordinating board do now?

CBR

This article from Texas Lawyer has a bit more detail: http://www.law.com/jsp/tx/PubArticleFriendlyTX.jsp?id=1202560826314

Money quotes: "When asked why A&M wants to enter the law school business at a time when new law grads are struggling with poor job prospects and hefty student loans, Sharp replies that some law schools "may be producing lawyers people don't want," but the A&M law school would produce intellectual property lawyers who are in high demand nationwide. Sharp says Texas A&M excels in graduating chemists, engineers, and other professionals who are uniquely qualified to practice patent law."

(John Sharp is the A&M Chancellor who used to serve as the Texas Comptroller).

I also see some skepticism about whether UNT will ever get off the ground: "When asked why A&M would try starting its public law school in the same North Texas market, Sharp replies, "In this instance Texas Wesleyan is where it is. It had nothing to do with considerations of other schools starting, and maybe not starting. It was: 'This is where it is, this is who we are partnering with.'"

I see a big legislative fight ahead on this--Sen. Royce West supported UNT. My guess would be that in the current era of budget cuts/no tax increases, the state will not want to expend funds on ANY new state law school. I can see them letting accepting the A&M deal only if the school keeps private-level tuition. It would also provide a good reason to kill the UNT deal (though Sen. West has a lot of power in the state, so who knows...). West typically serves on the Senate Finance committee, and I can't see him sending public dollars to A&M/Wesleyan.

A Suprised Aggie

A few comments:

1. Texas A&M does not receive funding from the state legislature. Along with the University of Texas, it shares in a permament endowment, unlike any of the other state schools. It actually has two endowments, totalling about $7 billion. Unlike UNT, it need not await an allocation from the legislature.

2. As everyone familiar with Texas higher education these days is very aware, Governor Perry has been rather hands-on. Governor Perry, it turns out, is a very proud graduate of Texas A&M. Had he been governor when Texas A&M acquired STCL, the Higher Education Coordinating Board would not have been a problem. Presumably, the Governor backs this, and, at the very least, Texas A&M learned from its mis-steps with STCL.

CBR

Texas A&M has endowments, yes, but still gets $267 a year in state appropriations from General Revenue (see budget here: http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Bill_82/GAA.pdf). I don't think they can do this without additional state funding, and I don't think they are going to get it, no matter how much Perry might want it.

CBR

See also today's Inside Higher Ed: "A spokesman for Texas A&M said that the institution expected the law school to receive funds from the state along formulas used to support other public law schools." (from http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/06/27/texas-wesleyan-law-school-joins-texas-am). A&M can use endowment dollars for the purchase, but will need state money to be able to offer a state-school-level tuition.

CBR

And by $267 a year, I meant $267 million--quite a difference there!

A Suprised Aggie

Hmm. I've always heard the other state school supports complain so much about the PUF for UT and TTU, I had discounted the thought that A&M law shool would be getting additional funds. But, in any event, teceiving money from the legislature comparable to what it provides UT, Texas Tech, and Texas Southern is quite different in amount than receiving from the legislature enough money to build a new law school. UNT needs the money to build a new law school. A&M doesn't.

A&M was humiliated once. It is likely A&M learned. In 1998, King Perry was not in charge of higher education in Texas; in 2012, he is. Between Royce West and UNT, on the on hand, and Rick Perry and the Most Republican University in America, on the other, I bet on the latter in any sort of political conflict.

But I don't think there will be any conflict. This will happen, rather quickly. While I think we need fewer law schools in Texas, not more, I suppose transforming one of the 4th tier schools we do have into a better school makes some sense. It certainly makes more sense than starting a new 4th tier school in the middle of the current crisis.

Perhaps there can be a UNT Center for Law & Justice at the Texas A&M School at Texas Wesleyan University, and perhaps it can be named for Senator West.


CBR

Yeah, I definitely agree this is better than going forward with UNT. Still, though, if I were betting money I would guess that both proposals will go down in the crossfire of a legislative fight. The backup plan, maybe, would be for A&M/Wesleyan to go forward with no state money (i.e. keep tuition at private-school levels, which I guess Michigan State and Penn State both did).

A Suprised Aggie

While I still would bet A&M Law @ TWU becomes a reality on schedule, this is interesting:

http://www.jdjournal.com/2012/06/29/texas-am-struggles-to-make-possible-law-school-purchase-a-reality/

CBR

Interesting...I really like Senator Ogden. And Surprised Aggie, should we make an official bet on whether the deal goes through? I'll bet you a six pack of Shiner Bock it doesn't! :)

Alfred Brophy

Following up on CBR's comments from last week, I didn't realize that Penn State has only one tuition schedule. That is, there's no discount for Pennsylvania residents. Maybe this becoming common among public law schools these days, though I find that unusual. Is there any news yet on whether A&M will give a discount to Texas residents?

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