The James E. Rogers College of Law is focusing more keenly on scholarship funds for students before they arrive and alumni connections after they graduate.
The college has just launched a $1 million fundraising campaign to bring in scholarship dollars with the intention to raise $200,000 by May. An anonymous donor has already offered a $25,000 challenge grant.
Meanwhile, the college has pulled together a network of alumni from 15 cities including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and Washington, D.C.
Termed “Arizona Law Ambassadors,” the program will connect graduates new to the job market with others who can help them make professional connections and learn about the legal culture elsewhere.
“The goal is to have a strong and supportive network of alum who can shoot an e-mail, send a letter, make it a little less scary,” said Toni Massaro, the college’s dean and the Milton O. Riepe Chair in Constitutional Law.
UA law students do fare well already.
More than 75 percent of the college's students receive some form of free aid – whether that is through scholarships, grants or waivers. Also, of those who graduate from the college, 96 percent are in a job within six months of receiving their degree.
The college’s new initiatives are meant to enhance existing help withi financial aid and job placement.
Massaro pointed to a number of statewide and national higher education issues making support for students all the more important. They include rising higher education costs, improved student diversity and the heightened responsibility of institutions to support their students.
“The whole point is to do a better and better job of serving our students and to continue to burnish our reputation and provide a first-class education,” said Massaro, who is also a Regents’ Professor. “We want our students to have maximum career options.”
But solutions require collaboration between public and private entities, she added.
The national network is in place now, and will expand over time.
The fundraising campaign will span five years.
Both efforts coincide with the renovation of the Law Commons that, when completed in 2008, will include a modern library and improved student and learning spaces, among other features.
The fundraising, combined with Arizona Law Ambassadors and renovations at the college, are part of the college’s “promise to the future,” Massaro said.
And the money raised will be critical for students while they are studying and also for many of those who graduate with student loans.
Certain graduates may feel “compelled to go into high paying jobs” because of the debt, Massaro said. But, if that debt were less burdensome, new graduates would be in a better position to choose an area that is “the best fit,” she explained.