Recently our newset graduates took action to support that heritage and begin a commitment to the future of their college.
As you have read elsewhere in this Report, we average about 10-12 percent alumni contribution rate – or around 1,920 of 16,000 graduates – year in and year out. We can do better, and our new graduates are out to make that happen.
The graduating classes of Fall 2001 and Spring 2002 contributed and pledged over $18,000 to give back to many of the programs and organizations that helped them on their way to the success we know they will attain. These voluntary gifts came before any of them received their first paycheck and at a time they have an average post-graduation debt of more than $42,000.
What an impressive sacrifice this is. With over 33 percent of the two graduating classes contributing the trend is set. Such vital student activities as Florida Law Review, Moot Court, Trial Team and multiple organizations will benefit greatly. Pride in the past and hope for the future is the message these new alumni are sending.
Just as these classes have set new precedents, our faculty and staff have worked hard to prepare our students for their future careers. I would especially like to thank Appointments Committee Chair David Richardson for his hard work in continuing to recruit and hire one of the strongest faculties in the country.
The fact we are able to recruit the best says a lot for everyone at the school. This fiscal year 2001-02 has been one of the best ever in terms of faculty recruiting and hiring. Environmental Law, Childrens and Family Law and Dispute Resolution are establishing nationally renowned programs. We also will replace our exceptional Director of Libraries Grace “Betty” Taylor with an internationally recognized new Director of Libraries Kathleen Price – who counts Betty as her mentor.
The combination of unique and innovative programs; diverse, creative and extraordinary faculty; and a diverse, high quality student body demonstrate why our rise into the Top 10 is inevitable. The college’s Strategic Plan lays out a plan to meet that objective.We plan on an improved student teacher ratio, skills training, enhanced faculty scholarship and teaching, and dynamic changes in our institutional focus. All of these initiatives are underway.
I have said before that our greatest weakness is our facilities. The last major upgrades and renovations were about 20 years ago. The astonishing ‘fundraising‘ success of 2001 will allow us to proceed with groundbreaking in 2003 for a $23 million state of the art library and classrooms. These facilities will match the excellence of our faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Each new semester brings a greater demand to attend our college. The LSAT scores and grades of the entering classes are the highest ever. Although the job market and economy may be tough, the graduates of the College of Law are doing well. Thanks to the hard work of our Career Services office for helping our Class of 2001-02 achieve a 97 percent placement rate nine months after graduation. We are no longer only a Florida college but a national institution. The students are being hired by the best firms in the country and are locating in Atlanta, New York, Washington and beyond.
We have all the elements that lead us towards a Top 10 college. Our new graduates have recognized the value of their education and the importance of investing in our future. All of us as alumni need to consider following their example. If our 16,000 graduates match the level of giving of our new graduates our giving rate will triple.
That’s a nice challenge.
Dean Jon Mills