Some very big faculty shoes to fill

We already have an excellent law school. But what will it take to make us a truly great law school?

The formula is actually quite simple. First, we must continue to enroll outstanding students. After all, our students are the future leaders of our profession, and they are the citizen lawyers who will make lasting contributions to our communities, state and nation.

Second, we must recruit and retain an outstanding faculty — a community of highly skilled teachers who both instruct and inspire our students, and whose research and law reform efforts advance the welfare of our society and our system of justice.

Third, we must acquire the resources we need — both public and private — to do our job at the highest level. We cannot successfully compete at the very highest level if our perstudent spending remains at a very low level. Fortunately, as I reported to you in the fall, we are making progress in this area, thanks in large part to the generous support of our alumni and friends.

One of the reasons we must make dramatic improvements in our resource picture soon involves a historic challenge facing our college. During the next five years, at least 12 of our tenured faculty will retire. Among these faculty members are many individuals who inspired, motivated and prepared you for your careers — such as Fletcher Baldwin, Mike Gordon, Jerry Israel, Joe Little, Doug Miller, Jim Nicholas, Mike Oberst, Don Peters, David Richardson, Mary Twitchell and Walter Weyrauch.

The good news is we are optimistic many of these esteemed individuals will remain active in the intellectual life of our law school community. But the fact remains these retirements represent a full 20 percent of the tenured faculty — and some very big shoes to fill. Yet at the same time, this transition presents us with an opportunity that comes along only rarely in the life of an institution — to build the faculty that will lead our college for the next few decades.

One of the great stories in the history of our college is how a partnership of alumni, university leaders and the state faced the challenge of accreditation-threatening deficiencies in our facilities and created what is now regarded as among the very best academic space in the nation. We have already demonstrated with our recent hiring of both experienced and entrylevel faculty that we are able to recruit the top teachers and scholars in the nation to the University of Florida. I am confident we will meet the challenge presented by the forthcoming retirements of many distinguished faculty, and we will use this as an opportunity to build a law faculty that is second to none. Thank you for your help and support in this effort.