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Another suitor is showing interest in Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. The chancellor of the University of North Texas in Denton says UNT officials are discussing buying the Fort Worth law school and have begun appraising its physical assets, including the building, land, computers and library materials. Although discussions about the purchase began recently, UNT’s desire to develop a public law school goes back more than 20 years, Chancellor Lee Jackson says. “The opportunity to acquire an existing accredited law school in an area without a public law school offers some advantages to the region and to UNT,” Jackson says. UNT is the second university this year to consider buying Texas Wesleyan’s law school. Wesleyan administrators have discussed selling the school for almost two years, but the board of trustees turned down an offer this year from Texas Christian University as too low. Wesleyan and TCU administrators decline to reveal the amount of the offer, but two sources who request anonymity peg the amount at about $30 million. Lisa Fellers, Wesleyan’s director of communications, says that discussions with UNT are in the early stage. “When you have a great thing, people are always interested,” she says. “It’s a prestigious school.” Jackson says it’s too soon to put a price tag on the deal, but UNT plans to raise private money if it does buy the law school. In addition, the university would not ask the Legislature for operating expenses, he says. “This is not the environment to be asking the state of Texas for additional dollars,” the chancellor says. “It [the law school] would need to continue to be self-supporting.” The school would remain in Fort Worth if it becomes part of UNT, he adds. The state, including the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, would have to approve the deal. The law school was established in 1989 as DFW Law School and became part of Texas Wesleyan in 1992. The American Bar Association granted it full approval in 1999. Approximately 600 students, some of them part time, attend the school. The law school’s relationship with Wesleyan, which has been grappling with budget woes recently, has been rocky at times. The university’s use last year of almost $1 million of profits generated by the law school for other Wesleyan programs irked law Dean Richard Gershon, who on Aug. 16 announced that he would step down as dean in May 2003 and return to full-time teaching. Gershon said any surplus should help the law students who generated it and his decision to resign as dean was based on funding disagreements with university officials. This academic year, Wesleyan officials will refrain from dipping too deeply into its law school’s coffers. Under an agreement approved Oct. 8 by Texas Wesleyan’s board of trustees, the university will take only 20 percent of what the law school generates above its $10.9 million budget. That works out to about $150,000 on an estimated profit of approximately $750,000. The rest would be used for the law school. Gershon credits students, faculty, staff and alumni for helping bring about the agreement. They voiced their concern over money being diverted from the law school and university officials responded positively, he says. He adds that the board has set up a liaison committee to work with law school representatives. “It’s a very positive step,” Gershon says. “It allows the law school to keep all of its budget. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.” TRY, TRY AGAIN University of Texas Pan-American officials don’t give up easily. Once again, they’re pushing to establish a law school in the Rio Grande Valley, even though a similar proposal died three years ago after opposition from state legislators and a state agency insisting that the Lone Star State produces enough lawyers with its nine existing accredited law schools. A preliminary report drafted in September by staff members of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shows that the number of lawyers who passed the Texas bar exam in 2000 was roughly equal to the number of jobs available to new attorneys. But Pan-American President Miguel A. Nevarez says South Texas has a shortage of lawyers. He wants to develop a law school at the university’s Edinburg, Texas, campus. “There are some special needs along the border for attorneys in terms of international law and international commerce,” Nevarez says. “We’re looking at a law school that will be specialized in that area.” Pan-American is looking at starting as a satellite of an existing Texas law school. A plan to hook up with Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock died in 1999 when legislators opposed the concept of linking students in Edinburg to professors in another part of the state by video conferencing. GET THE WORD OUT Texas Southern University was created in 1947 partly to close the doors of other state universities to blacks. Today, it opens doors to opportunities to students of all races and ethnic backgrounds, its supporters say. TSU recently launched a campaign to raise money and awareness of its educational services, including the chance to earn a J.D. One of its selling points is the 55-year history of its Thurgood Marshall School of Law in turning out most of the new minority lawyers in the state. Graduates tout that fact, among others, in print advertisements and radio and TV commercials that make up the university’s Open Doors campaign. The commercials and ads have run primarily in the Houston area. “TSU is one of the best-kept secrets in the state of Texas,” says state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, in an interview. Ellis, a solo practitioner in Houston, earned his undergraduate degree at the Houston university. “It graduates a disproportionate amount of the African-American and Hispanic lawyers in the state. It graduates a disproportionate amount of the African-American and Hispanic leaders.” Others participating in the campaign include former President George Bush and Sylvia Garcia, controller for the city of Houston and a Thurgood Marshall graduate. “This campaign helps meet the commitment to have a first-class university that attracts nonminority students as well as continues to serve minority students,” Ellis says. Bradley Deutser, of the Houston marketing strategy company Yaffe/Deutser, which runs the campaign, says the goal is to raise $50 million in capital funds. The cost of the campaign, which will continue through the fall and into next year, is hard to pin down because the university is receiving free services in many cases, he says. Much of the help comes from TSU alumni, Deutser says. “Students, when they graduate, want people to know they got a great education.”

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