The LSU Law faculty have endorsed a number of important curricular and policy reforms designed to improve the Law Center’s academic program and further the competitiveness of our students. Although some recommendations will require approval of the LSU Board of Supervisors, and some implementation details remain to be worked out by the faculty, “the substance of the changes is exciting for the future of the school,” said Chancellor Jack Weiss. “This is a watershed moment for the LSU Law Center.”
Read the Chancellor’s messages to Friends of LSU Law and Students.
October 19, 2009
Dear Friends of LSU Law:
I’m very pleased to forward to you an email I sent to our students on Saturday night (October 17, 2009) shortly after the LSU Law faculty concluded its two-day Long Range Planning meeting in New Orleans. As you will see from the message, the faculty endorsed a number of important reforms that will further the competitiveness of our law school and substantially benefit our students without diminishing the breadth or rigor of our academic program. Importantly, each graduate will continue to earn both the J.D. degree and a second degree encompassing civil, comparative, and international courses. The joint degree will remain a signature feature of the Law Center’s academic program.
The faculty’s endorsement of standardizing the Law Center’s grading system and two year planning of our curriculum are pedagogically sound and, we believe, in the best interest of our students. We have recommended eliminating the burdensome requirement that all students attend a summer semester, but reduced the overall regimen of required study by only one, three hour course.
Some of the faculty’s actions will require approval of the LSU Board of Supervisors. With respect to other items, the details and timing of implementation will have to be worked out carefully by faculty committees and returned to the full faculty for further action. In general, however, I am hopeful that we may secure all necessary approvals and move forward with the proposed changes as expeditiously as possible—to benefit our current students and to add even greater momentum to our efforts to compete for outstanding students in Louisiana and beyond.
As noted below, I am extremely proud of our faculty for formulating and endorsing these progressive actions. Our students also deserve great credit for the important role they played in the process. We reached out for, and were guided by, input from a number of interested alumni and from adjuncts who teach at the Law Center. I am grateful for the assistance we have received and look forward to continuing this constructive dialogue as we move toward definitive adoption of these positive reforms.
With kindest regards, Jack Weiss
Chancellor’s Message to LSU Law Students Regarding Recommendations of the Faculty
October 17, 2009
As many of you may be aware, the faculty of the Law Center met in New Orleans today and yesterday to consider a number of proposals relating to curriculum and to student educational policies. These proposals had been considered by the faculty’s Long Range Planning Committee (and the Curriculum Subcommittee of that Committee) and referred to the full faculty for consideration.
It is with great optimism and great pride in what the faculty has wrought that I report to you the actions taken this weekend at the New Orleans meeting. In my judgment, these actions represent a giant step forward for the Law Center. They are both pedagogically sound and consistent with the best interests of students, now and to come. And I believe that the new policies supported by the faculty will enable us to be even more successful in attracting outstanding students like you to the LSU Law Center.
Briefly summarized, the faculty took the following actions (subject to any required approval of the LSU Board of Supervisors and other necessary approvals):
- The two existing upperclass “basket” requirements (“Advanced Civil Law: Civil Law Tradition” and “Perspectives: Legal Theory & Global Law”) (11 hours and 5 hours, respectively) are to be merged into a single basket in Global, Comparative and Civil Law requiring course work totaling 15 hours .
- The number of hours required for graduation will be reduced from 97 hours to 94 hours. The Law Center no longer will require a seventh semester of study (i.e., a semester of summer school) as a prerequisite to graduation from the Law Center. Of course, students wishing to take summer courses (for example, our wonderful program in Lyon) may do so. These first two items would be effective for all classes beginning with the class scheduled to graduate in May 2011.
- The faculty discussed and, without taking action, referred to its standing Committee on Student Educational Policies (“CSEP”) a possible change in the length of a credit hour (i.e., in the length of scheduled classes) from 60 minutes to 50 minutes. Such a change, if adopted, would permit additional classes to be offered during key time periods and would afford greater flexibility in scheduling classes.
- The faculty approved modifying the current grading scale to make the Law Center’s median grades and grades in the higher ranges reasonably comparable to those of peer schools. In order to assess in greater detail the potential impact on student attrition of adjusting grades, the faculty referred to the CSEP consideration of adjusting grades in the lower ranges to a similar standard of reasonable comparability.
- The faculty voted to make adherence to the Law Center’s grading scale mandatory in all but highly exceptional circumstances.
- The faculty voted to make anonymous grading mandatory in all courses requiring an exam. The CSEP was charged with recommending a detailed plan for implementing the mandatory policy, including, for example, making provision for class participation points to be awarded without compromising the anonymous grading of exams.
- The faculty requested the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs to prepare a two year plan of courses to be offered at the Law Center and to submit the plan for review by the Curriculum Committee and submission to the full faculty for approval by February 2010. A key purpose of the two year course plan is to afford students greater predictability in choosing courses, beginning with course selection for the Fall 2010 semester.
- The faculty requested the CSEP to review and report back to the faculty on possible modification of the current class attendance policy and the current mandatory sanction imposed for excessive absences. The faculty confirmed that, while this review of the current policy is being conducted, the faculty Executive Committee may grant relief from the current policy in exceptional circumstances and the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs may grant such relief until the Executive Committee is able to schedule a meeting in order to consider doing so.
- The faculty will address as soon as it is able to do so open issues relating to the timing and the application of the changes described above to current students. The timing and application of the changes will depend in part upon the necessity for, and the timing of, Board and other approvals.
I believe the steps taken by the faculty are both highly positive and highly significant for our law school. The active participation of the Student Bar Association leadership—in particular, the thoughtful and constructive “White Paper” submitted by the SBA—helped us greatly in giving careful consideration to the issues of concern to you. A big “thank you” to the SBA! I also want to express my sincere gratitude to my faculty colleagues. Many of your teachers—too many to name—worked long additional hours on our long range planning effort (which continues apace). After a great deal of work, they got us to the point where we had concrete proposals before us. The efforts of our retreat and curriculum review leaders made it possible for us to chart our future with confidence that change would only make us better, and would not remotely threaten the tradition of excellence we have nurtured so carefully for more than a century. All of us should join in thanking the faculty as a whole for combining their prodigious talent and creativity with the open mindedness necessary to move the school forward. Onward and upward!
Jack Weiss, Chancellor