From Dean Gotanda this morning:
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,
Earlier today, U.S News & World Report announced its Best Law Schools 2013 Rankings. Villanova University School of Law was ranked #101 nationwide, 17 spots below the 2012 ranking of #84. This drop in our ranking reflects the continuing effect of the public censure issued by the American Bar Association in August 2011, regarding wrongdoing by former administrators in the reporting of admissions data. In light of this highly-publicized event, it is not surprising that the Law School’s reputational score among deans and faculty members at other law schools, which accounts for 25% of our overall score, dropped significantly this year.
It is also important to note, however, that the Law School’s reputational score among lawyers and judges remained the same as last year. This score is particularly significant for our applicants, students, and alumni, because it continues to reflect the Law School’s excellent reputation among legal employers and leaders of the bar. We will continue to work to rebuild trust and confidence in our institution within legal education, and we are gratified to know that we have a strong base of support within the practicing bar.
While I am disappointed with this year’s results, I am confident in our future vision and am certain that VSL is much stronger than our ranking indicates. Indeed, these rankings represent only a small part of what defines success for academic institutions, including the attraction of outstanding faculty and students.
The 2011-12 academic year has been an extremely promising one for the Law School with numerous indicators of success. Our continued commitment to attracting high caliber students yielded an impressive 2011 incoming class with the median GPA rising to 3.57, the highest in more than 5 years. Our recent alumni have excelled upon graduation with an over 91% first-time passage rate for the July 2011 Pennsylvania Bar Exam. Last month, National Law Journal named VSL as one of its top 50 “Go-To Law Schools,” based upon the percentage of 2011 J.D. graduates who were hired as first-year associates at the nation’s largest 250 law firms. This year also has seen an extraordinary increase in alumni giving – both in terms of a meteoric rise in the annual fund, as well as the receipt of the largest single gift in the Law School’s history.
Most importantly, while the U.S. News & World Report rankings look back at past events, Villanova University School of Law is focused intently on the future and our new Strategic Plan. The legal profession, in all of its forms, is constantly evolving and to that end, so must legal education. To ensure the vibrancy and relevance of our curriculum and programs, and the success of the Villanova Law graduate, we are examining every aspect of legal education in the twenty-first century as part of our ongoing strategic planning initiative.
I invite all members of the VSL community—alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends—to join the conversation about the Law School’s future by visiting our Strategic Planning website to share your thoughts.
Thank you for all of your support. United with you, I can say with complete confidence that Villanova University School of Law will continue to prosper, thrive, and grow even stronger.