- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Saint Louis University’s law school has brought in a consulting firm and made staffing changes as it seeks to redefine itself amid a recent decline in enrollment in its program and many law schools throughout the country.

In 2012, Dean Annette Clark abruptly resigned in part over anger at being left out of important decisions, such as the school’s relocation to a new downtown building, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1Y1ejTs ).

The interim dean, Tom Keefe, held the position for six months before quitting after provoking an uproar over comments even he called “politically incorrect.”

Since then, the school has quietly reduced staff. School spokeswoman Jessica Ciccone said that was done through attrition and voluntary buyouts.

Like many law schools nationally, Saint Louis University’s has seen an enrollment decline in recent years. The number of students has dropped from about 950 in 2010 to about 500 in 2015.

Among American Bar Association-approved schools, law school enrollment dropped to 119,775 students in 2014 from a historic high of 147,525 in 2010, the newspaper reported.

“We won’t ever be as big as we were 10 years ago. But I think we’re in a good position. We’re poised for growth,” said Dean Michael Wolff, who announced in April that he’ll be stepping down from his position after 30 years at the university. He hasn’t given a date for his exit, but a 13-member committee is searching for his replacement.

The university hired a consulting firm, Alix Partners, to compile potential operations changes. The consulting firm and the law school agreed to keep the report confidential.

“This was necessary for the growth of the school,” Wolff said. “We depend a lot on alumni donations. If we’re perceived to be too big, donors aren’t interested in contributing. They want you to be right-sized. They don’t want to think they are propping something up that is too big.”

In an email obtained by the newspaper, Wolff told faculty and staff that the report would be available for viewing online through appointments coordinated with his executive assistant. Those who view it must sign a waiver promising confidentiality.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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