PQP ax swings at Law

By Sabryna Cornish

The NIU College of Law soon might be dismissed.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education is recommending NIU’s College of Law be chopped in an effort to save higher education money.

College of Law Dean James Alfini said a report the IBHE released stated the reasoning for the axing is “based on faulty reasoning.

“There’s no relation to reality (in the report),” Alfini said.

NIU President John La Tourette said there are holes in the IBHE analysis of the law school. “(The analysis) looks like a piece of swiss cheese,” he said.

La Tourette said NIU already has discussed two-thirds of the IBHE’s recommendations. However, La Tourette said the administration did not agree with four or five other areas the IBHE addressed.

La Tourette said the administration will look into the other third of the programs that the IBHE recommends, one of which is eliminating the College of Law.

“Our analysis has not suggested their analysis,” he said.

The remaining recommendations could eliminate or consolidate these four or five other programs.

Some of the report states that “it is clear that attorneys searching for work significantly exceed the number of job openings.”

Alfini, however, said 3,000 new jobs are open for lawyers per year and Illinois is turning out only 2,000.

The IBHE report also states that NIU is ranked at 159 out of the top 200 law schools in the U.S. The average tuition charge per credit hour at NIU is $208, whereas the average at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is $227 and $337 at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Alfini accused the IBHE of “selectively using statistics.”

Alfini said the IBHE overlooked the tuition figures and the fact that NIU’s College of Law is the only publicly-funded school. NIU’s law school is “the most affordable and we should be cut?” he said.

“We’re the cheapest, most cost-efficient school,” Alfini said. “We’re the only publicly-supported law school in the state.”

He said it will be hard for middle-class families to go anywhere else besides NIU. “We provide an accessible law school,” he said.

Alfini said he has “no doubt” that the university administrators will support keeping the law school intact.

“I have no reason to believe (La Tourette) and the administration will not stand up and be counted as far as the law school is concerned,” he said. “Once the university closely examines the (IBHE) analysis, (the administration) will support it.”

NIU Acting Provost J. Carroll Moody said he had no comment on the College of Law’s situation.

This is not the first time NIU’s law school has been in trouble.

The NIU College of Law originally came from transfer students branching off from Lewis University Law School in 1979. The IBHE, however, objected to the transfer and refused to give its support to a bill that was later signed by then-Gov. Jim Thompson and the college was born.

NIU and the IBHE will compare their “hit lists” at the Oct. 6 IBHE meeting.