Tomorrow, the Western Michigan University trustees will meet to decide if the school should end its affiliation with Cooley Law School. Back in 2013, the two schools agreed to an affiliation while maintaining separate financial and academic autonomy.
Western Michigan released a statement that explained, “It was the hope of both institutions that the affiliation would improve the quality of the educational experience for students at both institutions and would serve to enhance the reputation and standing of both institutions in the academic community. Several years after implementation those hopes have not been realized.”
Should Western Michigan vote for a separation, it would be a three-year process per the terms of their original agreement.
The statement concluded, “Ventures not at the center of WMU’s strengths and mission have been eliminated to maintain focus and stability through these unprecedented times. The board believes that affiliation with Cooley has become a distraction from the university’s core mission.”
The pandemic may be a major factor behind this upcoming vote and we would never want to question Western Michigan’s truthfulness. However, this explanation could involve a good deal of tact and it’s certainly possible WMU is concerned with how Cooley’s reputation could be impacting its own reputation.
We’ve blogged before about concerns with lower-tier law schools and the excess supply of law school seats in the current market. This should be one more caution sign to weaker applicants who are considering a lower-tier law school.