Presented to the UC Hastings Board of Directors 2-28-2013
I write to offer an update on my activities since the last Board meeting (December 7, 2012). I earlier submitted a comprehensive self-evaluation and memorandum regarding compensation. We are instituting a new regular practice of my preparing these written reports for the UC Hastings Board of Directors. They are made available to the public.
In academic terms, we continue, as all law schools do, to adapt to the dynamic marketplace that has seen a continued profound reduction in the applicant pool – especially among the most highly-credentialed candidates. Numerous convenings of the bench, the bar, and academics have been gathered to address what has been called a “crisis” and a “new normal.”
I cannot emphasize enough this change to the applicant pool. The LSAC volume data shows approximately a 22.5% decrease in the past two cycles, with an additional 22.5% decrease on top of that in this cycle. Nationwide, the drop is about 45%. Moreover, the most highly-credentialed applicants have vanished from the applicant pool: their application rates have fallen at about twice the overall rate in this cycle.
As you know, UC Hastings has been cited repeatedly as the leader in addressing this issue.
Non-JD programs will be crucial to our efforts to “reboot” legal education. We are working on the hiring of our permanent Assistant Dean for the Graduate Division. Our international scope and San Francisco location also confer an advantage. We have a new agreement with Pusan Law School of South Korea to accept students from that institution (at their expense).
To emphasize our institutional commitment to engaged scholarship, we have changed our Foundation faculty award, which recognizes accomplishments in research, by increasing the amount of the honorarium to $10,000 and adding a celebration, so it exactly parallels the Rutter Teaching Award. This year’s recipient is Professor Darien Shanske. I broadcast a message on engaged scholarship. This will become a regular theme of our communications. To signal my personal level of intellectual interest, I am attending, as the schedule permits, faculty colloquia. At my invitation, Professor Larry Levine, an alumnus who teaches elsewhere, came to deliver a talk regarding Justice Kennedy’s jurisprudence and its likely effect on marriage equality.
Internally, I continue to lead the Cabinet. We convene a weekly “Key Issues” meeting. We are including Academic Dean Designate Elizabeth L. Hillman and Associate Academic Dean Designate Heather Field as part of their transition. A larger group, the Senior Staff, joins us monthly. We have improved the format with a feature speaker, e.g., most recently Assistant Dean Sari Zimmerman regarding the legal marketplace and employment outlook.
I hold one-on-one meetings with each Cabinet member, on Mondays – that is the day reserved for administrative matters. I meet with Associate Deans (who report to the Academic Dean) on a quarterly basis. Among the important meeting subjects was LSSSE, the Law School Survey of Student Engagement, which presented important data on what we are doing well and what we need to improve, for the student experience.
At this time, the most significant challenge is adjusting everything we do to implement the strategic plan, including in particular aligning the class size reduction and the budget. This is no small undertaking. With respect to our other planning endeavors, I have appointed Professor Brian Gray to work with CFO David Seward to bring the long range master plan (LRMP) for the campus to closure. I have asked them to hold town halls to ensure input from all constituencies.
We hold monthly faculty meetings. I see the Faculty Executive Committee regularly between those meetings.
In terms of institutional advancement, numerous trips and events have been held with great success. We have revitalized the UC Hastings Challenge, formerly the Law Firm Challenge, by enlisting many more firms and extending the program to offices that are not in the private sector. We just held a celebration for the offices that had achieved recognition levels. In UC Hastings Challenge, a captain at the office conducts an annual giving campaign among alumni (at least five in the office to participate), with the goal of 100% participation (regardless of amounts given). I personally visit as many of these offices as possible. This outreach mode is highly efficient, because a volunteer undertakes much of the logistical work (and covers costs associated with a lunch), and we are able to interact with multiple prospects simultaneously.
I met with alumni in Washington, D.C., as I do whenever I travel there. I spoke at the Fresno alumni association chapter annual award reception earlier this week. This event is among the best in any area. The highly active alumni association chapter gathered just shy of five dozen alumni.
I omit from this report discussion of individual donors and pending requests. I mention here only that we have obtained a new seven-figure commitment for scholarships (a current use gift), which we are finalizing. I have had numerous visits, not only to make “asks” for financial contributions to the law school but also to cultivate alumni more generally. For example, at my suggestion a member of the class of 2012 convened a half dozen of her classmates to see me after work at Soluna’s down the street, a familiar venue to them.
The efforts to create a sense of community are constant. We are planning our first Gala. Mayor Willie Brown is our alumni honoree. Simona Agnolucci is the “rising” alumni honoree. Professor Roger Park is the faculty honoree.
I am working with Tom Stevens, the younger brother of the late Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, on the symposium honoring the latter. I have personally served as the liaison to the Stevens family. I’ve delegated the substance of the symposium to Associate Dean for Research William S. Dodge.
We have suffered losses. Students organized a memorial for 1L Gordon Mathis Riley, who passed away over the winter break. His parents attended, as did most of his sectionmates. Only a few days ago, Career Services Associate Director and alumna Sarah Tigerman lost a valiant struggle against cancer. We have reached out to everyone, including her co-workers, classmates, and life partner.
We have brought to closure discussions with Foundation leadership on how to implement the Operating Agreement. We are following through. The Foundation and the Alumni Association, respectively, had excellent meetings in Los Angeles in January. Attendees remarked these meetings were the best in their recollection. Assistant Dean Shino Nomiya and Managing Director of Development Laura Jackson did excellent behind-the-scenes work and made thorough presentations.
I am actively engaged in governmental relations. We brief members of the state executive branch as well as the state legislative branch. I also am in contact with local and federal officials as appropriate. Governor Jerry Brown has indicated he expects the UC system, as well as UC Hastings, to freeze tuition; the time scope of this directive has not been specified. Although I’ve been determined to do as much as can be done realistically to keep our fees affordable for middle-class families, a total freeze of this nature – not offset by the state appropriation – has a severe adverse effect on our strategic plan. The budget models were based on annual 5% tuition adjustments, a rate that is reasonable and sustainable.
Public relations proceeds apace. We are rolling out Fiat Justitia videos, in which I interview a faculty member about his/her work for five minutes, via social media outlets, at the rate of approximately one session per week. We are prominent institutionally on Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter. The alumni magazine issue on immigrants, featuring California Attorney General Kamala Harris, is in page proofs. Communications Director Alex A.G. Shapiro has been received tremendously, and deservedly so. His lunch talk to the Foundation and Alumni Association Boards in Los Angeles persuaded the audience of the influence of social media.
The Winter Social was festive and well attended. The staff Town Hall offered an opportunity to introduce Academic Dean Designate Hillman and Associate Academic Dean Designate Field to acclaim and enthusiasm. I personally hosted two staff lunches. I have been hosting these informal social gatherings for a half dozen non-faculty employees each time; these are done at my own expense.
I continue to produce scholarship and write for the popular press. I was commissioned to write a short essay on the concept of “yellow” as a racial category (i.e., “yellow” as the description of Asian persons) for a forthcoming reference work to be published by NYU Press. My Huffington Post blog is attracting attention well beyond the academy.
I also continue to make media and public appearances discussing both my scholarship and legal education reform. I was asked to participate in an episode of the NBC show “Fatal Encounters,” discussing the Vincent Chin killing that is the subject of my next book. I also was the keynote speaker for the San Francisco Day of Remembrance for the internment of Japanese Americans. I discussed the law school crisis as part of the Ingram Memorial Symposium held at another Bay Area law school. Thanks to Director Bruce Simon, I appeared on the Tom Girardi radio show, “Champions of Justice,” discussing legal education.
UC Hastings hosted the Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty (CAPALF), a major academic convening celebrating its twentieth year (and open to people of all backgrounds). Other faculty organized the event, not me, though I led the Vincent Chin trial reenactment. As part of that, the Honorable Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit visited our campus for multiple events.
Perhaps as a consequence of being a panelist at the AALS Deans’ Section program on “The New Normal,” I have been contacted by numerous dean candidates for advice and counsel. In one pending search, I have spoken with three of the five finalists (having disclosed that to each). Informally, I also organize other deans. At the ABA deans’ conference, I organized the California deans to discuss issues of shared concern.
I have been leading the discussion within the Blum Foundation, which supports scholarships at the four San Francisco law schools. The Board of this independent non-profit consists of the deans of those law schools, and we are addressing issues raised by a significant piece of real property we have acquired as the remainder interest following the death of a life beneficiary.
I continue to be active as a member of NACIQI, the Department of Education commission that oversees accreditation. I participated in its December meeting in Washington, D.C. In this role, I have become familiar with and contributed to discussions about the federal Higher Education Act. There are significant issues under consideration related to the accreditation role in ensuring the quality of higher education and the appropriate investment of society in federal financial aid.
Finally, I enjoy seeing Directors to orient them to the school.
Thank you for your support.