“Basically, we’ve decided not to pursue it at this time for two reasons,” said University of Delaware spokeswoman Andrea Boyle. “It’s a difficult time for fundraising. The second reason is that the law school would have a projected operating deficit that we weren’t comfortable with.”
According to the minutes of a faculty senate meeting last month, during which members were briefed on the feasibility study, a new law school would run an operating deficit of $165 million during the first 10 years. Additionally, the school would require $100 million in capital expenditures.
The university is the latest in a string of colleges that have backed away from plans to new law schools. In the summer of 2008, at least 11 new law schools were being discussed. Of those:
• Three have opened (Concordia University in Boise, Idaho; the University of California, Irvine School of Law; and Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law in Knoxville, Tenn.).
• One is slated to open next fall (Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tenn.).
• Another is scheduled to open as early as 2012 (the Judge Paul Pressler School of Law in Shreveport, La., part of the Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College).
But nearly all the others have been abandoned or placed on indefinite hold, with a few exceptions.
Officials at the State University of New York at Binghamton continue to push forward with plans for a new law school, although they still would have to clear multiple levels of approval from the governor and state budget officials, said campus spokeswoman Gail Glover.
“Binghamton University’s plans for a law school continues to move forward, and we are still hopeful that we will open the doors academically in 2017-18,” Glover said.
The state of Texas approved the creation of the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law in 2009 with initial hopes of opening in 2011, but those plans have been delayed until at least the fall of 2013.
“It became clear that the budgetary situation in Texas was such that we had to slow down our planning,” said Rosemary Haggett, the vice chancellor for academic affairs and student success for the University of North Texas System. “We are authorized to begin and have every intention of opening the law school. It’s just a matter of when.”
Money was also the problem at Delaware. The University of Delaware trustees authorized the feasibility study in December, assuming a timeline under which the school would win final approval in 2013 and open its doors to students in 2015. University President Patrick Harker acknowledged in a letter at the time that a law school would be costly.
“Investing in a new law school is expensive,” he wrote. “It would require subsidization of operating costs for the better part of a decade, retrofitting a campus building or easing space for the law school’s first decade of existence, and making a substantial one-time start-up investment in library resources.”
Karen Sloan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.