Western Michigan University Trustees Approve Affiliation Agreement with Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Agreement allows Cooley to become Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School
July 19, 2013 - Western Michigan University (WMU) trustees approved an affiliation agreement July 18 that will allow the Thomas M. Cooley Law School (Cooley) to become the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a move Cooley’s board of directors already approved.
In April, WMU trustees affirmed their support for the affiliation and asked that final agreements be brought back for the board to review. During the July meeting, trustees signed off on a measure approving the use of the University name on the law school and authorizing the administration to take all other actions deemed necessary to effect the affiliation. That includes the authority to execute and deliver all agreements, contracts, instruments and filings, and other documents.
WMU Vice President for Business and Finance Jan Van Der Kley recommended the resolution to the board and remarked on the long, cordial and collaborative relationship between WMU and Cooley. She also noted the benefits to the University that would come from such an affiliation as well as its fit with WMU's strategic plan.
"Today, there are 82 public universities with law schools accredited by the American Bar Association," she said. "WMU will become No. 83."
Earlier this year the two schools announced April 2 that a formal affiliation had been part of an informal three-year discussion by WMU President John M. Dunn and Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc. During recent months, the discussions broadened to examine the impact an affiliation would have on stakeholders, accreditation, financial responsibilities and growth potential.
"We are delighted that Western Michigan University's Board took this action to expand and enhance our already great relationship," said LeDuc.
The affiliation agreement means Cooley would remain an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity but would become known as the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
The next steps in the affiliation process, Van Der Kley said, will be for the schools' respective accrediting agencies—ABA and the Higher Learning Commission for Cooley, and the Higher Learning Commission for WMU—to review the name change agreement that is part of the affiliation accord. That is expected to take place in the fall.
The initiative builds on a long and successful relationship between the two schools that includes a number of existing graduate dual-degree programs and shared physical facilities for a time in the Grand Rapids area. Since announcing the possibility of an affiliation, a number of additional synergies have been discussed. Among them are the possibility of a 3+3 program allowing students to complete their bachelor's and law degrees in just six years; interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities for faculty; and additional joint course offerings in areas that might focus on the legal environment for business, education, health care or intellectual property.
About Cooley Law School: Celebrating 40 years of excellence, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is a private, nonprofit, independent law school accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Cooley has provided its more than 17,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world. Cooley offers its Juris Doctor program, Joint Degree programs, and Master of Laws programs three times a year with enrollment in January, May and September. Cooley Law School has campuses across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, and its new campus in Tampa Bay, Florida.
About Western Michigan University: Western Michigan University is a learner-centered, discovery-driven and globally engaged research institution with an enrollment of nearly 25,000. Classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a university with high research activity, WMU offers more than 240 degree programs, including 30 at the doctoral level. The University attracts students from every state in the union and 95 other nations. Its more than 900 faculty members have been trained at some of the world’s leading universities. In addition to its main campus in Kalamazoo, WMU has seven regional locations in Michigan.