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Archive for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

KU’s law school drops again in national rankings, while 12 programs make top 10

March 13, 2012

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U.S. News and World Report released new rankings for graduate programs on Tuesday, and while Kansas University had 12 programs ranked in the top 10 among public universities, its School of Law, hampered by slumping employment numbers, dropped into to a tie for 89th overall.

The law school, which dropped 12 spots in 2011, dropped another 10 this year. Stephen Mazza, KU’s law dean, said a dip in employment numbers was to blame.

The magazine used employment data from the KU’s class of 2010, which had 46.4 percent of its students employed at graduation, and 78 percent of the students employed nine months out. Those are lower than the class of 2009’s figures, which saw 63.2 percent of its students employed at graduation, and 89 percent employed nine months later.

While the economy is playing a role, KU’s numbers are generally lower than those reported by other schools, Mazza said. He stressed that KU doesn’t manipulate its numbers by hiring recent graduates at low salaries or by other means.

“One school reported 98.2 percent,” as an employment rate for its graduates, Mazza said. “I find that extraordinary.”

Mazza said he had been aware of the employment numbers long before the rankings came out, and the school has taken some actions to counteract the low employment figures.

“We don’t want to let the rankings dictate how we run the law school,” Mazza said, but at the same time, they do highlight areas where the school needs to improve.

The law school has hired a new assistant dean for career services and a new career services director. Both of those people are using new tactics to make connections with potential employers, helping students start their own firms and are looking beyond law firms to other industries to help place law graduates.

Also, Mazza said this year’s first-year class size was reduced to 131 students from 165.

“It’s a lot easier to get jobs for 131 students than it is to get jobs for 165,” he said.

Mazza said some areas of the law school remained strong. For example, its bar passage rate was back up above the state average, and its faculty-to-student ratio remains low.

KU was tops in the grad school rankings in two traditional areas of strength. The school’s city management and urban policy program ranked No. 1, and KU’s special education tied for first with Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. The School of Education’s overall ranking remained ninth among public schools and 18th overall.

With 12 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 for public universities, the university is halfway to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little’s goal of having 21 top-10 graduate programs.

KU Medical Center saw several rankings improve, including its ranking for rural health. The last time the magazine ranked rural medicine programs in 2009, KU wasn’t listed. This year, the program was tied for 12th among all universities.

While the KU School of Medicine ranked 35th overall for primary care, its research ranking was lower, at 72nd among all universities.

Barbara Atkinson, KU’s executive vice chancellor at KUMC and the dean of the medical school, said she was pleased with that ranking and an improved ranking for primary care.

“I’ve been worried in the past that we weren’t really recognized for rural health,” she said. “We’re very pleased overall.”

She said she thought the sharp increase was likely because of the opening of a new KUMC campus in Salina.

Comments

LadyJ 2 years, 9 months ago

The article is about the law school, but they show a picture of the school of medicine?

notasheeple 2 years, 9 months ago

My friend says that if KU Law School only spent half of the effort helping graduates find jobs as they do asking for money, they would be wildy successful.

But I think they just don't produce a product worthy of being employed, after all, the Dean "stressed that KU doesn’t ...[hire] recent graduates at low salaries or by other means." 22% unemployment rate for graduates--not so good.

costello 2 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunately that's the story everywhere. There aren't enough jobs for all the law school grads we're turning out.

FarneyMac 2 years, 9 months ago

Typical entitled kids these days - it's not the school's responsibility to find them a job.

costello 2 years, 9 months ago

This isn't a story about entitled kids. It's about law school rankings. If the school wants to go up in the rankings or avoid a headline like "KU’s law school drops again in national rankings" in the local paper, it has to play to the rankings - which are frankly silly. If the rankings are based in part on what percentage of grads are employed and if the employment figure is dragging them down, they need to do something about getting their grads employed.

The real question is, how much energy do we want the law school to put into trying to make a ranking of questionable usefulness go up?

NoisyCrickets 2 years, 9 months ago

Like most law schools, there are paid full time staff members in a department called Career Services at KU that are on staff specifically to find jobs for KU law students. It is in fact a responsibility of the school when they are being paid to do it.

always_correct 2 years, 9 months ago

In regards to your asking graduates for money - part of the reason for the low ranking is actually the relatively little amount KU Law Alumni donate. Most of the figures are easily improved by increasing donation revenue and in turn spending that money in specific areas. For instance, 15% of the ranking is determined by "Faculty resources." This figure includes 11% "expenditures per student," 3% "student/faculty ratio," and the remaining from "faculty resources" are determined by number of books in the library.

Additionally, the quote from the dean you referenced is misplaced. Dean Mazza was referring to other schools who hire recent graduates into administrative and assistant positions within the school itself - the salary was only mentioned as a reference towards schools doing it but still keeping costs as low as possible. The point is they are skewing the numbers. Feel free to google it.

The relevant part of your post to me, seems to be the inference that alumni relations are poor. In my opinion this is the key to KU improving its rankings. Many KU Law grads do not seem to have a favorable opinion of their time at KU Law - for varying reasons. If KU Law is successful in affirmatively improving alumni relations, money will likely come in. Not only will this improve revenue to spend on improving the rankings, it will also help in the subjective aspects of the rankings. Forty percent (40%) of the ranking is determined by "Quality assessment." Surveys are sent to other law school deans, practicing lawyers, and judges. Many of those assessed simply use the previous year's rankings, and therefore the assessments are to a certain extent self-determining. Even so, it certainly couldn't hurt to have better alumni relations and thus more alumni speaking positively about the school.

Regardless, KU clearly needs to work to fix these problems. Other schools are also having difficulty, but KU's drop from the low 60s to the high 80s is extreme. The rankings may be an inaccurate assessment of practical skill, but both potential students and employers use them. Hopefully Dean Mazza can improve them in the next few years, but I wouldn't expect anything in the very near future. KU will graduate over 300 law students in the next two years. It is unlikely the employment prospects will improve during that time. If anyone has any informed recommendations, instead of incessant complaining or ignorant suggestions - please let them be known.

Sorry for the length of this post.

costello 2 years, 9 months ago

The U.S. News ranking are a joke and ought to be scrapped.

rtwngr 2 years, 9 months ago

Bar passage rate was 'back' above the state average? Really?

Harvard of the plains? I don't see it.

Blame the economy. Blame this blame that. It's always someone else's fault, isn't ti?

costello 2 years, 9 months ago

"Blame the economy. Blame this blame that. It's always someone else's fault, isn't ti?"

What does that even mean?

Google "unemployment rate of law school grads," and you'll find this is a huge issue right now. Jobs are in short supply for new J.D.'s.

Then google "law schools manipulating rankings data." Here's an article specifically on maninpulating the employment rate in order to raise the schools ranking: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/legal/breach-of-trust-law-schools-obsessed-with-rankings-fudge-graduates-employment-figures--77695/

The rankings are silly, but people don't seem to be aware of that, so law schools are focusing energy on playing to them.

Cai 2 years, 9 months ago

so....which 12 were good, and why aren't they worth reporting?

Cai 2 years, 9 months ago

so....which 12 were good, and why aren't they worth reporting?

ahyland 2 years, 9 months ago

Cheers. Here are the programs in the top ten:

  1. City Management and Urban Policy (Master)
  2. Special Education (Master/Doctorate)
  3. Occupational Therapy (Master/Doctorate)
  4. Public Management Administration (Master)
  5. Paleontology (Doctorate)
  6. Public Affairs (Master)
  7. Clinical Child Psychology (Doctorate)
  8. Speech-Language-Pathology (Master)
  9. Audiology (Doctorate)
  10. Physical Therapy (Master/Doctorate)
  11. School of Education (Doctorate)
  12. Education Administration and Supervision (Doctorate)

Andy Hyland Reporter

firebird27 2 years, 9 months ago

I will be polite enough to omit names. But for some of these programs, the reason for their high rating is that there are so few universities offering these specialties. So the rankings are a bit deceiving.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 9 months ago

Gosh, with all of the Distinguished Professors in the law school, one would think they would be much better than 89th overall.

Tony Kisner 2 years, 9 months ago

Idle hands are the devil's work shop. Better get these lawyers something to do before they start suing each other, or the law school.

HazeFace 2 years, 9 months ago

Ugh! It annoys me that the full report at US News isn't linked to in the article.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 9 months ago

The law school has 37 faculty members. 37. With an enrollment of 131 students.

That's 4 students per law school faculty member.

7 law professors are Distinguished Professors.

It seems to me that there are far too many resources being devoted to the law school given what they produce. The salaries for these professors alone is at least $4-5 million.

ProfessorSeamus 2 years, 9 months ago

This year they limited enrollment to 131, last year was 165. And that is one years class out of three. So the ratio is more like 15 to 1 with your method. And I'm not sure that all of the faculty are full time, so it may be lower still.

oakfarm 2 years, 9 months ago

(131 + 165 +165)/37 is more like 12 to 1. And if you ADD the part-time faculty, it would lower the ratio, not increase it, more like 10 to 1.

costello 2 years, 9 months ago

I think he was saying that some of the 37 might be part-time, not that there are additional part-time faculty.

costello 2 years, 9 months ago

"The law school has 37 faculty members. 37. With an enrollment of 131 students."

I believe the article said they had admitted 131 students this year. It takes three years to complete a J.D., so there would be two other classes ahead of them still working on their degrees.

"It seems to me that there are far too many resources being devoted to the law school..."

And your qualifications for running a law school are...? What is the appropriate number of professors? And why do you care?

A law school isn't a kindergarten. Faculty specialize in various areas. They also supervise clinic students, run the centers, teach CLE's, research, publish, and I'm sure do many other things I don't know about.

"...given what they produce."

lol... What do you imagine they produce? It sounds vaguely unsavory when you put it that way. ;-)

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 9 months ago

I stand corrected. 12 is still far, far below the student/faculty ratio in other departments. Also, the law school teaches no gen ed courses that I know of.

"And your qualifications for running a law school are...? What is the appropriate number of professors? And why do you care?"

I would say an appropriate number of professors would be a number in which each professor teaches two classes a semester to law students. I doubt law students are offered (37x2=74) 74 courses a semester. I care because resources at KU are limited and decreasing, and efficiency is the only way these problems will be solved.

It seems to me that a general measure of overall productivity is a ranking which includes teaching effectiveness, job placement, and academic/scholarly output. I don't know if this poll incorporates all of those, but KU law is 89th, not boding well for good productivity relative to its peers.

always_correct 2 years, 9 months ago

well you are completely wrong. keep being ignorant, you seem to enjoy it.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 9 months ago

Looks like we have a KU law grad! Impeccable argumentation skills.

KU_cynic 2 years, 9 months ago

If KU Law School holds steady with enrollments around 131 per class, doesn't that mean that two years from now total student enrollment -- and tuition revenues -- will have dropped by about 20% relative to 2010-2011?

Seems like a mandate for either better placements that would restore higher enrollments or some serious downsizing at the law school.

I'm I missing something?

Jimo 2 years, 9 months ago

It's pretty difficult to square the 'out of control regulatory uncertainty of the Obama Administration' with law students unable to find jobs. Regulation and lawyers go hand in hand.

Could it be that the 'explosion of regulations' constantly pushed by the Propaganda Channel isn't quite so fair and balanced? (I report; you decide.)

Tony Kisner 2 years, 9 months ago

"Mazza said some areas of the law school remained strong. For example, its bar passage rate was back up above the state average, and its faculty-to-student ratio remains low."

I think this statement is a little backwards. I think a low student to faculty ratio would be a better situation than low faculty to student ratio.

kulawl 2 years, 9 months ago

The only people that take law school rankings seriously are potential law students. The rankings exist for no other purpose than to sell magazines. The problem is that law schools know how important these rankings are to potential students and thus do their best to manipulate the numbers they know affect their rank.

As for as increasing the class size, like some comments have suggested to raise funds, is that you are really only adding to the bottom of the class. When you add to the bottom of the class the average GPA and LSAT score drops. Further, adding more students to the class means you have more students competing for less jobs, further saturating an already tough legal market.

What the law school needs is a massive infusion of capital for building renovations and scholarship money. The only real way schools can shoot up the rankings is by massive donations that allow you to offer the best students significant scholarships and hire the best professors, or by building a shiny new law school building.

NoisyCrickets 2 years, 9 months ago

As a 2010 graduate of KU Law, I was one of the employed members of my class. 2 years later, I have moved 3 times and I have been through 3 jobs. The market is horrific everywhere. The problem is compounded by absurdly high student loan debt from extremely overpriced legal education (far exceeds most graduate programs and is a profit leader on most college campuses). There's plenty of a jobs I could take for $25k a year, but it wouldn't service my student loan debt.

Law schools sold students on artificially inflated numbers and we used that information to justify taking on the student loan debt to take the jobs they said existed. The market plummeted and KU Law compounded the problem by not actually preparing us to be lawyers. We're all great at discussing the history and reasoning of law, but we're all worthless at practicing law. Law firms don't have time, money, and resources to train us all when the law school failed. Post-law school most of us paid Kaplan, BarBri, etc. to TEACH US how to pass the bar because KU Law did not.

I made a bad investment in KU Law and was deceived by the numbers used when they recruited me. I don't expect them to do anything for me, and I will never ever donate my time or money back to the school because of it. I still love KU and Lawrence... I will forever bleed Crimson and Blue, but I will never look fondly upon the administration and career services (full time professional PAID to find KU law students jobs).

Tony Kisner 2 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like a class action waiting on an under utilized lawyer. Go for it!

volunteer 2 years, 9 months ago

I have commented previously, even when the thread was not specifically on this subject, about the jaw-dropping number of law school graduates who have passed the bar but are still working as bartenders (or whatever their part-time job was in law school.) Doesn't matter if the law school is Washburn or KU.

Western Kansas, I was told several months ago by a county commissioner in that region, needs assistant county attorneys, and some of those counties are willing, in addition to salary and full benefits, to help pay off student debt...but many law school grads insist on trying to remain in Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, or Lawrence....despite the massive amount of student loan debt they have accumulated.

I agree the "deciders" were quite tardy in lowering the numbers of those admitted to law school, and perhaps the law schools massaged the numbers to imply that the bartenders WERE employed and just did not mention that the employment was of the minimum wage variety...but maybe some of these graduates aren't as willing to sacrifice and suffer in the initial years of their careers as those a few decades ago.

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 9 months ago

Dear Andy Hyland,

Thank you for providing the programs in the top ten.

As for law, noisycrickets above has no point whatsoever. There is always a good market for good lawyers.

Many don't want to start out at lower wages, either. And therefor they don't get hired. You have to begin where it's possible, even if wages are low.

Also, anyone who has been through three jobs, and isn't wiling to take a $25,000 dollar job to begin with, has only themselves to blame.

There are also many lawyers who are impossible to work with. They always want things their way. You have to work with each other and your clients.

notasheeple 2 years, 9 months ago

"Many don't want to start out at lower wages, either. And therefor they don't get hired. You have to begin where it's possible, even if wages are low.

Also, anyone who has been through three jobs, and isn't wiling to take a $25,000 dollar job to begin with, has only themselves to blame."

Lemme guess. You probably didn't take on 100K in student loans like my buddy, who reasonably expected (based on career services data) that he--like the majority of reported KU law grads--would actually earn a salary that would cover his student loan debt.

Still, I agree with you in one thing. Y'all are a bunch of whiners if you expect someone else to just give you a job. If you are good enough, you will find work. I suppose you could conclude that KU Law doesn't graduate a quality product that people actually want to employ. Otherwise, why would 22% of them be unemployed?

NoisyCrickets 2 years, 9 months ago

I said specifically that "There's plenty of a jobs I could take for $25k a year, but it wouldn't service my student loan debt.".

What do you not understand about not being able to make loan payments? I would be below poverty level and unable to collect government assistance. Did you miss the point about law school's cost? That's something that did not face generations prior to mine. KU Law in state law graduates can rack up anywhere between $50-$70k in student loan debt while out of state graduates (includes students from KCMO) can rack up anywhere between $80-$110k in debt.

Also, maybe you also missed, "I don't expect them to do anything for me, and I will never ever donate my time or money back to the school because of it."

I don't expect anything from KU Law. I am back on track in my career after diving into the legal market 3 different times. The problems in Green Hall are partially due to the market, but also due in large part self inflicted problems created by the administration.

NoisyCrickets 2 years, 9 months ago

I said specifically that "There's plenty of a jobs I could take for $25k a year, but it wouldn't service my student loan debt.".

What do you not understand about not being able to make loan payments? I would be below poverty level and unable to collect government assistance. Did you miss the point about law school's cost? That's something that did not face generations prior to mine. KU Law in state law graduates can rack up anywhere between $50-$70k in student loan debt while out of state graduates (includes students from KCMO) can rack up anywhere between $80-$110k in debt.

Also, maybe you also missed, "I don't expect them to do anything for me, and I will never ever donate my time or money back to the school because of it."

I don't expect anything from KU Law. I am back on track in my career after diving into the legal market 3 different times. The problems in Green Hall are partially due to the market, but also due in large part self inflicted problems created by the administration.

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