Going Forward: Principles, Aspirations and Strategies for SUNY Buffalo Law School
Approved by the faculty on May 16, 2008.
Amended by the faculty on October 17, 2008.
In April 2007, pursuant to a faculty meeting, Dean Nils Olsen appointed a five-member Planning Committee to lead the faculty in a planning process for the Law School. The members of the Planning Committee were David Engel, Lucinda Finley, Lynn Mather, Errol Meidinger, and Makau Mutua who served as the chair. Going Forward is a product of this planning process.
Planning is vital to the life of any law school. It is a continuing process, as recognized by the ABA's requirement that law schools not only engage in "self-study" at the time of accreditation but that "strategic planning and assessment" will take place (and be "re-examine[d]" and "appropriately revise[d]" "periodically" (Standard 203). Going Forward is therefore conceived not as the final point in the planning process but as a framework for the Law School as it enters a new era. It anticipates and encourages the development of further planning to address specific aspects of the Law School and its mission.
Going Forward is part of an important transition. In the spring of 2007, Dean Olsen announced his intention to step down after a long and successful deanship. The faculty believes it important during this period to articulate shared understandings on the way forward and to renew and reinvigorate its commitment to the future of the institution. Accordingly, this document has two aspects: it is both a Statement and an Invitation. It is a statement of principles that are fundamental to the Law School and of basic strategies for implementing them. It is a rededication of the faculty to enter this new period together and renew our engagement in the broader Law School community. It is a framework for future efforts. Going Forward is also an invitation to the next dean to lead the faculty in this exciting process, to bring new ideas, new questions, and new visions to the ongoing planning process. Further planning is essential in many areas, some of which are identified in this document. The faculty recognizes that some of the Principles, Aspirations and Strategies herein implicate budgetary expenditures that will be subject to discussions and significant input from the new Dean. The faculty is eager to engage with the new dean and to support her or his leadership.
Going Forward grows directly from a two-day retreat held on June 25-26, 2007 at the Jacobs Executive Development Center in Buffalo. Most faculty and all senior administrators from the Law School attended the retreat. To provide background and necessary information for this event, the committee requested five-page reports from a number of faculty and all the senior administrators. The resulting compilation, which became known as the Red Book, contained twenty reports on different areas of the Law School. The retreat itself was a collegial, introspective, and forward-looking meeting in which faculty and staff interrogated the mission and vision of the Law School and sought to build on its rich legacy.
Going Forward is a result of the retreat and the subsequent months of discussion within the Law School. The document expresses the faculty's aspirations for, and commitment to, the continued improvement of the Law School. It is intended to set an agenda for the faculty and its many committees. Recognizing that this document is being created at a time of change and in anticipation of the appointment of the new Dean, it embodies what the faculty considers to be the core concerns, issues, and opportunities. It constitutes a collective reflection of where we have been, where we are, and where we need to go, as well as a collective willingness to work to further shape our vision for the future and act to achieve it.
Going Forward is organized according to the four component areas identified at the June Retreat as key targets. These are: the pursuit of excellence in scholarship; the pursuit of excellence in teaching; the governance of the Law School; and the infrastructure and external relations of the Law school. General Principles are presented first, followed by Strategies for Implementation, many of which anticipate the active involvement of faculty committees. Committee work is essential to the continuing planning process. Where this document specifies a role for a particular committee, it assumes that the committee will consider, explore, investigate, and recommend a plan of action for the faculty. In some instances, this document delegates the responsibility to a committee with some specific ideas for the committee to consider. Such ideas are preceded in this document by the expressions "such as" or "including" or "for example." These ideas are the product of discussions at the Retreat, in which creative suggestions were plentiful. Committees are asked to consider these ideas seriously but not to be limited or bound by them as they engage in their deliberations.
The Retreat and the discussions that followed also produced some specific recommendations that are, in the judgment of the Planning Committee, ready for the faculty to consider immediately without further committee action. These recommendations will be listed in a separate document to be presented directly to the faculty for discussion and, if approved, immediately implemented.
Principles and Aspirations
FOSTERING EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
Teaching is a central function of the mission of the Law School, and excellence in teaching goes hand in hand with excellence in scholarship. To fulfill its pedagogical mission, the Law School is committed to the following principles.
1. The Law School's curriculum is designed to help students to acquire all of the capacities necessary to be effective lawyers and public citizens in the modern world, including analytical, substantive, tactical, and communication skills and strong moral and ethical commitments.
2. The curriculum will regularly incorporate new knowledge, pedagogical opportunities and learning technologies, and continuously adapt to the changing world of law and legal practice.
3. The faculty will regularly review the overall curriculum and determine the Law School's hiring needs and priorities. Such review will include the J.D. program, the clinics and concentrations, the LL.M. programs, and possible new initiatives such as the Ph.D. program.
4. The first year curriculum is a fundamental statement of our institutional identity as well as an introduction for students to the mission of the Law School.
5. Teaching responsibilities will be equitably shared by all tenured and tenure track faculty.
6. Adjunct instructors play a valuable role in the instructional mission of the Law School, and their contributions require both recognition and regular review with respect to selection, performance, compensation, and curricular contributions.
7. An appropriate and effective law school curriculum must integrate a sophisticated clinical education program.
FOSTERING EXCELLENCE IN SCHOLARSHIP
Excellence in scholarship goes hand in hand with excellence in teaching and is a primary mission of a law school in a public research university.
1. A primary mission of the Law School is to foster excellent and innovative scholarship that is nationally or internationally recognized.
2. Policies and procedures are needed to support faculty scholarship, facilitate its publication, and make the scholarly achievements of the faculty highly visible locally, nationally, and internationally.
3. Scholarly interaction within the law faculty and with scholars from around the world are central to the life of the Law School and should be sustained and enhanced.
4. A central aspect of the growth and development of the Law School is the welcoming, mentoring, and integration of new faculty members and the continuing support and encouragement of senior faculty members so that all can become and remain successful and prominent scholars.
5. An expression of the central role of faculty scholarship in the mission and reputation of the Law School is the general policy that new full-time, non-clinical and non-Research & Writing faculty will be hired as tenure track faculty who are expected to produce scholarship.
GOVERNANCE OF THE LAW SCHOOL
Effective and collegial governance is essential to the continued success and improvement of the Law School. The following principles, to which the Law School is committed, express the traditional strengths of the Law School and its aspiration to improve the effectiveness of the governance processes in a changing environment.
1. The primary administration of the Law School is the province of the Dean. Governance of the Law School, including the establishment of academic and curricular polices, is a shared responsibility of the Dean and the full time Faculty.
2. Administration and governance of the Law School are guided by the principles of transparency, information sharing, consultation, accountability, and civic commitment to the best interests of the institution.
3. Committee work is a fundamental privilege and obligation of citizenship in the Law School community and is to be shared equitably by all faculty members.
4. Regular faculty meetings provide opportunities for faculty to review and discuss matters central to the life of the Law School, including reports from committees, programs, and administrative areas. Attendance and participation from all is encouraged as an aspect of good citizenship in the Law School community.
5. The faculty committee structure reflects the needs and priorities of the Law School and requires regular review to consider whether adjustments are needed.
6. Administrative and non-tenure track academic positions are vital to the effective functioning of the Law School. The importance of this work requires clearly defined job descriptions and procedures for regular review and evaluation.
7. The Law School's By-Laws provide the basis for the administration and governance of the Law School and require regular review to ensure that they reflect and shape its governing procedures.
8. The Law School places a high value on family and community in all aspects of its program. It is thus committed to continue to make spousal or partner accommodations, as appropriate, in appointments and other hiring decisions and to ensure the adoption and administration of family friendly policies with respect to all members of its community – students, faculty, and staff.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS
To achieve excellence in scholarship, teaching, and governance and to communicate these achievements more effectively within and outside the Law School, the Law School must constantly improve its infrastructure and external relations. The Law School therefore is committed to the following principles.
1. The Law School physical plant and technology will be maintained and improved so that they effectively support and reinforce the curricular and scholarly mission of the school.
2. As the SUNY system's only law school, the Law School seeks to recruit outstanding students and faculty from diverse backgrounds who are committed to academic excellence and civic engagement and who utilize their professional training to enhance the legal profession and society. Improvements in recent years in the qualifications and diversity of the Law School's students should continue and be expanded.
3. Participation of all faculty members in the Law School's contacts with students, alumni, and the broader legal community is encouraged as an aspect of good citizenship in the Law School community.
4. Development efforts are crucial for the future of the Law School and for realizing the principles and aspirations outlined in this document. Faculty participation in the planning and communication of development goals is encouraged as an aspect of good citizenship in the Law School community.
5. The Law School values service and civic engagement at the university, community, national, and international levels as a central component of the Law School's mission in a public research university.
6. Faculty scholarship and teaching that inform public debate are important forms of civic engagement.
7. The identity of the Law School should be clearly defined and consistently communicated through the Law School website, its marketing materials, faculty activities and engagements, and consistent use of the Law School's name.
8. The Law School's visibility will be enhanced if a limited number of annual signature events of the Law School are clearly identified and receive extraordinary publicity.
9. The Law School's international vision and activities represent a growing part of its mission and require continued updating and expansion to facilitate faculty research and teaching, student study abroad, and visits by international scholars and students.
To implement the principles and aspirations concerning Teaching, the faculty adopts the following strategies and requests the designated committees to submit plans for faculty discussion and proposed policies for faculty approval.
1. Temporarily increase the membership of the Academic Programs and Planning Committee. Because this document assigns many responsibilities to the APPC, the Committee on Committees should consider whether the APPC will require more members while implementing these tasks.
2. Initiate a systematic planning process for the Law School curriculum. It is time to engage once again in the process of curriculum planning consistent with our mission statement. This is a particularly auspicious time for the APPC, together with the new Dean, to launch such an undertaking. Faculty discussions have already highlighted some areas that require attention and investigation, and preliminary groundwork can begin immediately. Curriculum planning includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(i) Review the general design of the first-year curriculum, including an assessment of the successes and failures of the New Curriculum adopted in 1995 and the impact of subsequent modifications, such as removing the first year bridge courses.
(ii) Survey and evaluate Law School supported student extra-curricular activities with respect to the quality and diversity of offerings and effects on the academic mission. This would include the appropriateness of financial support as well as other forms of support such as academic credit for journal or moot court participation. It may be useful for the APPC also to survey and evaluate the demands of outside work commitments of students.
(iii) Review the Law School's approach to the teaching of research, writing, and related advocacy skills both during the first year and in the upper division. The review should also address the status, qualifications, compensation, mentoring, and evaluation and retention of research and writing instructors. A new Committee on Research and Writing, or a subcommittee of the APPC should be formed to conduct this review and make recommendations for enhancing and securing the future of the Program.
(iv) Review and assess the role of concentrations in the curriculum. Among the issues for the APPC to consider are: (a) procedures for creating, reviewing, and sun setting concentrations; (b) procedures for course scheduling and assuring places for concentrators in order to meet concentration requirements, (c) incorporating curricular needs of concentrations in faculty hiring processes, and (d) providing appropriate administrative support for concentrations.
(v). Consider how to make the outstanding clinical program a more visible and fully integrated element of the teaching and scholarly identity of the Law School.
3. Develop a policy for the equitable distribution of teaching loads including expected teaching loads and course relief. Teaching responsibilities in the Law School have become increasingly distributed and variable. The APPC should examine the distribution of responsibilities and discuss possible policies for managing this complexity with the appropriate vice deans and the new Dean.
4. Assess the current technological infrastructure that supports teaching. Technology offers an array of tools for law school teaching, e.g., to present and examine teaching material, bring in guest lecturers or students from afar, provide context for class discussions, etc. The Technology and Communications Committee should assess emerging trends in the use of technology for teaching and develop proposals for the future development of teaching technology in the Law School.
5. Foster the wider use of innovative teaching methods and instructional technology. Faculty members need more opportunities to share their innovations and experiences with one another. The Vice Dean for Academic Affairs and the Technology and Communications Committee are asked to determine how to facilitate such conversations and how to communicate new developments in technology-assisted law school instruction (e.g., TWEN, CALI, and others) on a regular basis to the faculty. Other resources and programs within the Law School and the University can also assist with teaching excellence and the use of instructional technology, such as the programs and staff expertise within the Law Library A-V Department, the Law School Information Technology Office, and the UB Teaching & Learning Center.
6. Develop policies to allocate office space in light of increasing demand caused by new faculty hires and the expansion of the staff. Demands on space have become more severe as the Law School's programs and personnel have expanded, and a policy is needed to ensure that there is adequate space for full-time, part-time, and adjunct instructional staff as well as visiting scholars. The Dean and the Office Space Utilization Committee are asked to develop a policy to address this problem.
7. Define the objectives, design the program, and facilitate the operation of the LL.M. programs. The APPC, in consultation with the Director of Post-Professional Education, the Director of the Criminal LL.M. Program, and the Director of International Programs, should consider whether and how to enhance, coordinate, and oversee the LL.M. programs of the Law School.
8. Establish a new Committee on Globalization and International Programs, with the Director of International Programs as ex officio Chair. This Committee will develop policies and criteria for establishing and evaluating international programs and will facilitate faculty and student participation in international programs, identify resources and support for international programs, and enhance the integration of international programs with the rest of the curriculum.
9. Continue work necessary to gain approval of the proposed Ph.D. program. The Ph.D. Committee is responsible for continuing the planning work to define the Ph.D. program and its curriculum, admissions standards, recruitment plan, and resource needs, as well as assessing the impact of Ph.D. supervision and committee membership on other faculty teaching obligations and workload. The Committee will consider ways of incorporating Ph.D. students into the intellectual life of the Law School and featuring their work at scholarly conferences so as to maximize opportunities to enhance the scholarly reputation of the Law School. The Ph.D. planning process will also benefit from the input of other faculty who would like to participate in Ph.D. supervision.
To implement the principles and aspirations concerning Scholarship, the faculty adopts the following strategies and requests the designated committees to submit plans for faculty discussion and proposed policies for faculty approval.
1. Establish a Scholarship Committee, with the Vice Dean for Research as the ex-officio Chair. This Committee will develop and recommend policies and programs to support, enhance and recognize faculty scholarship, including but not limited to consideration of policies on flexible teaching loads and course buy-out, travel and research-related financial support and summer compensation, and programs to assist with and encourage obtaining external research funding.
2. Consider expansion of the existing Law Faculty Workshop. One issue for the Scholarship Committee is whether to expand the Law Faculty Workshop, for example by bringing in innovative legal scholars on a monthly basis to present papers and works in progress that can then be disseminated through the Buffalo Legal Studies SSRN Series.
3. Pursue additional new initiatives to enhance the scholarly reputation and visibility of the Law School. A key task for the Scholarship Committee is to consider and present to the faculty new initiatives that may include, but are not limited to, development of the following ideas: a Buffalo Legal Studies Young Scholars workshop to be conducted each summer; a Distinguished Visiting Scholar program to support prominent legal scholars to visit the Law School for a fixed period to pursue a research project; the distribution of free copies of the Buffalo Law Review to a selected number of international law schools, centers, institutes, and libraries for inclusion in their collections; and other ideas that the Committee might suggest.
4. Improve individualized faculty web pages on the Law School website in order to make the activities and achievements of the Law School more visible. The Technology and Communications Committee, in cooperation with IT and staff, should facilitate the efforts of faculty members to create attractive and informative individual web pages that include, for example, updated CVs and links to all work that is not precluded by copyright. The SSRN Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper series provides a platform to feature newer work and to distribute such work to all other subject-appropriate SSRN sites.
5. Form a Visiting Committee for each eligible new faculty member during the first semester of his or her arrival. Visiting Committees have an ongoing mentoring role, and are proactively involved in advising junior faculty on research, teaching, and service. Their role includes reading drafts, discussing research plans, providing placement advice, and other support. For the future and in consultation with the Dean, the P & T committee or the P & R committee, as appropriate, may consider the advisability of renaming the Visiting Committees as 'Mentoring' Committees and designating a separate standing committee or a Vice or Associate Dean to prepare dossiers for all candidates coming up for tenure in any given year and present them to the P & T Committee or the P & R committee, as appropriate.
6. Make advisory committees available to any faculty member who requests one.
7. Reconsider the responsibilities and role of the Vice Dean for Research. It is suggested that the Dean, in consultation with the faculty, consider enhancement of the position by clarifying and expanding the areas of responsibility and providing sufficient support, such as course relief and other resources.
To implement the principles and aspirations concerning Governance, the faculty adopts the following strategies and requests the designated committees to submit plans for faculty discussion and proposed policies for faculty approval.
1. Enhance governance, communication, and collegial interaction through monthly faculty meetings. Regular faculty meetings provide an essential forum to deliberate and collectively shape the life of the Law School by considering reports from the Dean, from faculty committees, from programs such as the Clinics, and from Law School administrators, as well as periodic reports about significant developments at the University. Participation of full-time faculty at such meetings is a responsibility shared by all.
2. Clarify procedures and policies for the selection and evaluation of non-tenure track academic personnel. Faculty involvement in this important task can be enhanced by assigning responsibility to the APPC for determining the areas where adjuncts and other non-tenure track instructional personnel are appropriate and defining the processes for their selection, evaluation, and renewal.
3. Articulate and Communicate the responsibilities of senior administrators. Because it is important for the various constituencies of the Law School to know whom to contact regarding various questions, it is recommended that the Associate Dean for Administration articulate and communicate the roles and responsibilities of the senior academic and other administrators.
4. Articulate and Communicate goals of academic support programs. Faculty support for the Law School's academic support programs – including admissions, career services, development, and others – is most effective when the annual goals and standards of performance for such programs are clearly communicated. It is therefore suggested that the Dean and the relevant administrators report to and engage the faculty on annual goals and the progress in meeting them.
Strategies: Infrastructure and Communications
To implement the principles and aspirations concerning Infrastructure and Communications, the faculty adopts the following strategies and requests the designated committees to submit plans for faculty discussion and proposed policies for faculty approval.
1. Enhance and regularly update the Law School's website. Since the website is the most important vehicle for internal and external communication about the educational and research programs and accomplishments of the Law School, it is essential for the Dean and the Technology and Communications Committee to consider how the website can be improved and maintained. It is important that the person responsible for maintaining the Law School's website have continuing access to the most current information about Law School events and programs, faculty scholarship and accomplishments, and student activities and accomplishments, so that they can be frequently, and prominently featured on the website. In addition, it may be desirable to invest in an easy-to -update website which would allow faculty members and administrators to update pages for which they are responsible directly. The committee may also consider the need to develop principles of fairness, diversity, and institutional advancement to determine which persons, activities, and achievements are featured on the Law School homepage.
2. Make more visible our commitment to scholarship and our distinctive traditions of scholarly achievement. The Scholarship Committee and the Reputation and Ranking Committee, in consultation with the Vice Dean for Research and the Dean, have responsibility for increasing the national and international visibility of the scholarly excellence of the Law School by considering, for example, measures such as the following:
(i) Assigning a staff member to be Submissions Secretary to collect and disseminate faculty written works and provide them to the staff member responsible for publicity and communications and the Webmaster.
(ii) Streamlining a process for faculty and secretaries to easily and automatically forward written work to the staff members responsible for dissemination, SSRN posting, website updating, and other publicity.
(iii) Encouraging and enabling regular faculty participation and presentation of scholarly work at national and international conferences, and increasing the Law School's visibility at AALS conferences in particular.
3. Continue to raise the admissions profile of the Law School. The Admissions Committee should work with the Director of Admissions to consider measures to develop our admissions process, including but not limited to the following:
(i) Enlisting greater involvement from faculty, alumni, and law students to help the Director of Admissions to expand on recent successes in attracting and recruiting a diverse pool of excellent students. For example, faculty members may be asked to participate more actively in recruiting excellent students through phone calls and e-mails, by participating in open houses for accepted students, and by accepting other tasks identified by the Director of Admissions.
(ii) Expanding the role of the Admissions Committee to encompass working closely with the Dean, the Director of Admissions and the recruiting staff to develop strategies to attract and retain the most highly qualified students, especially diverse students.
(iii) Adopting new strategies for recruiting excellent students, possibly including the creation of named Scholar positions that would provide selected students with full funding, special activities, and prestigious summer internship positions and faculty research assistant positions in return for a commitment to remain at the Law School until graduation.
(iv) Expanding recruitment strategies to include enhanced marketing stressing the Law School's excellent record on job placement and highlighting the Law School's several programs that effectively combine legal theory with concrete experience and sophisticated, innovative skills training.
4. Facilitate, remind, and encourage faculty participation in Law School events, ceremonies, and celebrations. Many events in the course of the year serve to enhance the visibility of the Law School and build good external relations, such as alumni events, visiting scholar events, prospective student events, student dinners, and ceremonial events including commencement. Faculty participation and appearance at these events are important to our reputation and could be improved by providing a listing of all such events at the beginning of each semester. Reminders of the importance of these events and encouragement to attend them is the responsibility of the faculty itself, as well as the Dean, the Vice Deans, and the relevant faculty committees.
5. Develop a plan to enhance information flows through the use of computer and internet technology. An initial task facing the Technology and Communications Committee is to consider and present a plan to the faculty addressing ways in which the Law School can enhance its use of computer and internet technology. This plan may include, but is not limited to, the following matters: the Law School's use of the web to increase its visibility and reputation, use of computers to take examinations, better use of the Portal, secure data storage for the Law School, and enhancing the flow of information generally within the Law School and between the Law School and its external environment.
6. Continue planning for construction of a new Law School building. The New Building Committee should continue to study the feasibility of a new Law School building and to work with the University Master Planning process to ensure that the needs of the Law School are given full consideration. In carrying out this task the Committee should consider how the Law School can operate in the most sustainable and environmentally sound way possible, including reducing the school's carbon footprint and working toward the University commitment of moving to carbon neutrality.