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Applications to the Appalachian School of Law have increased dramatically in the three months since a gunman killed the dean, a professor and a student on campus. Community support also is up for the Grundy, Va., school, which requires its students to perform community service in the economically depressed region of central Appalachia. “When (the shooting) first happened, one of my biggest fears was that it would have a negative connotation that could essentially ruin a young school,” said Paul Dull, a Roanoke lawyer who graduated from the school and heads its alumni association. But as of April 6, the school had received 587 applications for the coming academic year. At the same time one year ago, 387 people had applied. “We’ve had applications come from Alaska, from Maine, from all four corners of the continental United States,” said Lucius Ellsworth, president of the school. Ellsworth said the school expects to have an incoming class of 125 in the fall. That will boost total enrollment to about 300. Officials credit the increased applications in part to the attention brought by the Jan. 16 shooting, which also put a spotlight on the school’s mission to train young lawyers in the Appalachian region. Some applicants who visited the school or who spoke to admissions counselors by phone said they first heard of the school from media coverage of the shooting, Ellsworth said. Ellsworth said Sunday he didn’t know exactly how many applicants learned of the school after the shooting but estimated it was “several dozen.” Some applicants were surprised to learn there was a law school in Grundy, a tiny town in the coalfields of southwest Virginia. They were equally surprised to learn that the little law school, which won provisional accreditation last year from the American Bar Association, had attracted some big names. Anthony Sutin, a Harvard Law School graduate, left a high-ranking job with the U.S. Justice Department to teach law at the school and later became dean. He was killed in the Jan. 16 shooting, along with Thomas Blackwell, a respected professor. Also killed was Angela Dales, a student in her first year. Three other students were wounded. Former student Peter Odighizuwa has been charged with capital murder in the shootings. Police said Odighizuwa was angry after learning he had flunked out of the school. He is being held without bail, awaiting a June 20 preliminary hearing. Community support for the law school has grown stronger since the shooting, Ellsworth said. After a memorial service at Grundy Baptist Church that followed the shooting, hundreds of people gathered to place flowers at the base of the school’s stone sign. The school has always had close ties to Grundy and Buchanan County, and every student and faculty member is required to perform at least 25 hours of community service each semester. The community service requirement is part of the school’s mission to improve conditions in the region. The school has drawn many of its students from the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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