Saving The School, Hurting The Town
Survival is one of our most basic and natural instincts. As members of the animal kingdom, survival is innate to us. When we get to the point of focusing solely on survival, things can get desperate and (at times) ugly. These days, some law schools are starting to go into survival-mode (with similar results).
Appalachian School of Law, located in the coal mining town of Grundy, Virginia (with a population of about 1,000) is focused on survival. The stand-alone law school had 48 students enter last fall—down from 146 students in 2011. At most, the school will have eight professors on staff next year. And Inside Higher Ed claims that number could be even less.
What’s more, the students accepted have some of the lowest LSAT scores — and 47 percent are allegedly failing at least one class. Many close to the school believe the key to getting more better qualified students is to move locations. The school was established to attract students wanting to study law in a rural setting. But now it appears the market for those students is insufficient.
An alumni group headed up by Tara Bartosiewicz-Blom says the school must move locations if it hopes to continue to be a school. Amber Floyd Lee, a 2009 graduate told Inside Higher Ed, that if the school doesn’t move from Grundy, “it will stay there and run into the ground and lose its accreditation.”
The problem for moving? Lee and others claim the problem is Mickey McGlothlin, a trustee and son of a wealthy coal operator. McGlothlin is a former attorney for Buchanan County (the county Gundy is in). According to an interview with a local TV station, McGlothlin says the school cannot move without approval from the county on account of a compact signed by the school with Buchanan County’s industrial development agency. McGothlin declined interviews with Inside Higher Ed.
Some close to the school accuse McGothlin of attempting to keep the school in Grundy to keep the town afloat. In doing so, he could lose the school completely. Emory & Henry College and Eastern Tennessee State University have already expressed interesting in purchasing the school. Emory & Henry is about a 45-minute drive from Grundy and ETSU is about two hours away.
The final crazy twist to this story is on Jan. 21, an email was sent to faculty from the associate dean for academic affairs to no longer give first year students letter grades. According to Inside Higher Ed, the email said it was to alleviate students feeling the pressure of competition. This, of course, makes it incredibly difficult for students to transfer to other schools. Why is this a crazy twist? The associate dean for academic affairs is Sandy McGlothlin, who happens to be wife of Mickey McGlothlin,
Source: Inside Higher Ed
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