- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

GRUNDY, Va. (AP) Applications to the Appalachian School of Law have increased dramatically three months after the dean, a professor and a student were killed in a shooting spree at the school.
"When [the shooting] first happened, one of my biggest fears was that it would have a negative connotation that could essentially ruin a young school," said Paul Dull, a Roanoke lawyer who graduated from the school and who heads its alumni association.
But as of April 6, the school had received 587 applications for the coming academic year. At the same time a year ago, 387 persons had applied.
"We've had applications come from Alaska, from Maine, from all four corners of the continental United States," said Lucius Ellsworth, president of the school.
Officials credit this increase in part to the national publicity that resulted from the Jan. 16 shooting and also highlighted the school's mission to train young lawyers in the Appalachian region. The school also won provisional accreditation last year from the American Bar Association.
Some applicants who visited the school or who spoke to admissions counselors over the phone said they first heard of the school through media coverage of the shooting, Mr. Ellsworth said.
He said yesterday he didn't know exactly how many applicants said they learned of the school from the coverage but estimated it to be "several dozens."
"There's no question. There's no doubt about that," he added.
Some applicants were surprised to learn there was a law school in such a place as Grundy, a tiny town in the coal fields of Southwest Virginia. They were equally surprised to learn that the little law school had attracted some big names.
Anthony Sutin, a Harvard Law School graduate, left a high-ranking job with the U.S. Justice Department to teach law at the school. He later became dean and was instrumental in helping the school win accreditation rapidly.
"I think the word got out that we have some tremendous faculty members," Mr. Dull said. "Unfortunately, two less tremendous faculty members now."
Mr. Sutin was killed on Jan. 16 along with Thomas Blackwell, a respected professor. Angela Dales, a former recruiter at the school who was halfway through her first year as a student, also was shot to death.
Former student Peter Odighizuwa has been charged with capital murder. Police said Mr. Odighizuwa was angry after learning he had flunked out of school. He is being held without bond, awaiting a June 20 preliminary hearing.
Since the shooting, community support for the school has grown even stronger, Mr. Ellsworth said. The school always has had close ties to Grundy and Buchanan County, partly because every student and faculty member is required to perform at least 25 hours of community service each semester.
The requirement is part of the school's mission to improve conditions in the economically depressed region of central Appalachia. Although it draws many of its students from the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina, the school now is receiving applications from a much broader area.
Mr. Ellsworth said the school expects to have an incoming class of 125 in the fall. That will boost total enrollment to about 300.

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