What a great start to our school year at UC Hastings. Already, we have been visited by the California Supreme Court as well as United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. These events are examples of the wonderful opportunities here for you to engage with law as it works in the world.
At its recent meeting, our governing Board of Directors accepted our new strategic plan. We have made it available on our website, and I encourage you to read it. You will see an exciting plan that creates a new model for legal education.
University of California Hastings College of the Law, the first law school of the American West, is responding to the changed circumstances of legal education with a bold strategic plan for the future. UC Hastings 2011: At a Crossroads charts this public institution's way forward as a national leader in preparing law students for a dynamic marketplace that demands professionals capable of addressing the most complex problems of law and policy.
I'd like to offer you the background of the strategic plan. Most importantly, the process was inclusive. This plan was developed under the leadership of Academic Dean Shauna Marshall and Controller Deborah Tran, who led a group that included directors (who also are alumni), professors, students, and staff. During the course of their work, they had to make hard choices. They had robust discussion, and they did not always agree on either the philosophy or the details. Yet they generated consensus.
The plan also integrates within it conclusions from the Task Force I created last year on rankings, and in turn will guide the substance of the capital campaign. Long range master planning for the campus is coming to a conclusion. Staffing and budgeting will be aligned with the strategic plan, as well as all aspects of our operations.
The document linked above presents the substance of the strategic plan. I will summarize only one crucial aspect of the plan: It is imperative we reduce the size of the JD class. This is the right thing to do, not only for our students but also for society. We should accept only the number of students that could have reasonable expectations about employment.
For most of UC Hastings' history, this has been a very large, heavily state subsidized school offering the highest quality of education and proud to offer few frills. This has changed. UC Hastings continues to offer the highest quality of education; we cannot remain very large; we are likely to receive only lower levels of state subsidy; and you as students expect and deserve better support. What will not change, however, is access. We have offered and always will offer access--and not merely access, but access to the best training.
None of this will be easy. The implementation will cause upset in some quarters. That is inevitable.
We have always been a great law school. Our progress as an institution depends on our ability to come together and adapt.
I enjoyed discussing these issues with many students at our recent Town Hall, and encourage you to participate in the life of your institution through the Associated Students of UC Hastings (ASUCH). Our reunions occur this weekend. Some day sooner than you may imagine, you will be among the proud alumni who return to this campus with nostalgia for the past and hope for the future.
-Frank H. Wu, Chancellor and Dean