What a difference six years $180 million makes.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Law this month wrapped up the capital campaign it launched in 2006, topping its initial $175 million fundraising goal by $5 million.
The money has allowed a variety of changes at the Philadelphia school involving the physical campus; the amount of financial aid available; and the size of the faculty and curricular offerings. It also has allowed the school to maintain its class size at a relatively small 250 students.
Perhaps the most obvious transformation involves Golkin Hall, a 44,000-square-foot classroom and office building that cost $33.5 million to build. It opened in April, one of the final pieces in a decade-long refurbishment of the campus.
Other, less visible changes have taken place within the law school’s structure and educational focus, said dean Michael Fitts.
“One of the most important things we have done is expand upon the classical legal education, where you teach students to think across a series of cases, and go beyond to all the different fields lawyers are going to be working in during the next 30 years,” Fitts said. “That means looking at intellectual property, health law, technology, communication and related management skills.”
One major focus has been on interdisciplinary programming and the addition of joint degrees or certificate programs. About 40 percent of Penn law students graduate with certificate or joint degrees, and more than half take courses outside of the law school. That means students are learning to interact with doctors, engineers and other professionals, Fitts said.
Along those lines, the school in 2008 launched a joint J.D./MBA program with the highly regarded Wharton School that can be completed in three years. A variety of additional clinics and centers seek to foster collaboration between law students and faculty and their counterparts in other disciplines.
The capital campaign has allowed the law school to add 21 faculty members since 2006, and 60 percent of the faculty members now hold advanced degrees in addition to a J.D. The new teaching and research capability has allowed the school to double the number of seminars and courses available to 2Ls and 3Ls.
Just as important, Fitts said, the law school’s financial aid resources have more than doubled, from $3.2 million per year in 2006 to $6.6 million now. The school has used that money to bolster its loan repayment assistance program, which helps graduates who take public-interest law jobs pay off their education debt. It has also boosted the number of scholarships for students who take summer public-interest law jobs the amount of need-based financial aid the school distributes each year.
Even though the capital campaign has wrapped up, Fitts said, Penn will continue to enhance its academic programs, particularly in international law. The school will continue to expand its financial aid programs, he said.
“This is obviously a time of significant change in legal education,” Fitts said. “If you’re the dean of a law school, you need to be thinking about what a student now will be doing five, 10, 15 years down the line. That really what this campaign has allowed us to do.”
Karen Sloan can be contacted at email@example.com.