The enthusiasm of a new academic year is undeniably contagious. We have been busy with the start of another exciting semester at the OU College of Law, and I want to pause for a moment to update you on our eventful summer and new 1L class.
Introducing our record class. For three consecutive years, including this year, the law school’s incoming class has set academic records. This year’s entering class has the highest combined GPA and LSAT scores than any other previous entering class in OU Law’s 102-year history. The Class of 2014 has a median GPA of 3.48 and LSAT score of 158. This is one of the most diverse classes we have ever had, both in terms of ethnicity (22 percent) and life experience. Among the many fields of expertise and varied backgrounds, the Class of 2014 includes military heroes, published authors, accomplished athletes, AmeriCorps members, entrepreneurs, real estate professionals and oil and gas engineers.
Celebrating new traditions. Our first-year students recently participated in “1L Convocation,” where University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren shared remarks and Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven W. Taylor administered a professionalism pledge. Modeled after the College of Medicine’s “White Coat Ceremony” and initiated last year at the College of Law, the convocation marks the formal beginning of our students’ legal education. It charges the class with an understanding of the importance and obligations of the profession. In this ceremony, our class dedicates itself to the ideals and principals of service to their clients and to society.
Impacting the world. More than 50 students experienced other countries and cultures this summer through OU Law educational programs. This year not only marked our 37th summer in Oxford, England, but also commemorated Professor Bob Spector’s last year as director of the study abroad program. After leading the program for 12 years, Professor Spector is relinquishing this very successful program into the capable hands of Professor Steve Gensler. We look forward to returning to Oxford next summer under his leadership.
Through the International Human Rights Clinic, eight students spent a week in Morocco and Ecuador, learning about other legal systems and researching the treatment of indigenous peoples in countries they will continue to study all semester. Over the past year, this program has given students first-hand international experiences in Uganda, Venezuela and Suriname. The field work supports the students’ reports to the United Nations Human Rights Commission on the respective countries. Through these experiences, our students learn how to become advocates for the “voiceless” while gaining a global perspective and unique understanding of the critical importance of the rule of law. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the international travel experience is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to our students.
Providing a valuable education. The hallmarks of a great public law school are quality and access. Once again, National Jurist magazine has named OU Law as a “best value” law school. This recognition comes at a time when the role of the public law school has never been more important. With a strong community that is passionate and dedicated, we are able to offer our students more scholarship programs, exceptional curriculum, talented faculty, a state-of-the-art facility and meaningful career resources. These are the ingredients that make OU Law a “best value” school, giving students access to an excellent legal education at an affordable cost.
Students and faculty winning national awards. Students in our College’s natural resources law program received national recognition this summer. Seven students received a total of $66,500 in scholarships from the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation. Professor Owen Anderson was also recognized with the Clyde O. Martz Award for Excellence in Teaching, a national teaching award that recognizes an outstanding educator in natural resources law. Across the globe, Professor Jon Forman completed a month-long taxation and business fellowship in Sydney, Australia, after receiving the Abe Greenbaum Fellowship by the Australian School of Taxation and Business at the University of New South Wales.
Social media and “OU Law.” By the next time I write you, we will have a new website for OU Law. We are also increasing our use of social media. Follow us on Twitter (UofOklahomaLaw) or Facebook (The University of Oklahoma College of Law) for ongoing updates and announcements. These are fantastic resources for increasing the interconnectedness of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. There is no shortage of successes at OU Law, and these are great new avenues to share our stories and reach out to one another.
Planning alumni gatherings. When I meet with alumni, I am always amazed to discover how many have never made it back to Norman. While I encourage you to come tour the campus (you won’t believe the changes!), I am equally as eager to come visit you in your hometowns. In addition to recent alumni gatherings in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Dallas, we are hosting alumni events in Duncan, Houston and Washington, D.C., this fall. Of course, always feel free to contact me at DeanHarroz@law.ou.edu or (405) 325-4699.
Beginning a Hall of Fame. We are also planning the first annual hall of fame dinner, termed the “Order of the Owl,” on November 8, 2011. At this special occasion, we will induct very deserving alumni into our newly established Order of the Owl Hall of Fame. This historic event for the College of Law will recognize alumni who are leaders of the law in our state and throughout the nation.
As you can see, we have had a memorable summer, and we are off to a great start for the 2011-12 academic year. It is because of you that we are one of the great public law schools in the nation.
Joseph Harroz, Jr.
Dean and Professor
College of Law
Fenelon Boesche Chair of Law
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