Cooley Law School Joins Western Michigan University

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LANSING — Western Michigan University trustees approved an affiliation agreement that will allow the Thomas M. Cooley Law School to become the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a move Cooley’s board of directors already approved.

In April, WMU trustees affirmed their support for the affiliation and asked that final agreements be brought back for the board to review. During the July meeting, trustees signed off on a measure approving the use of the University name on the law school and authorizing the administration to take all other actions deemed necessary to effect the affiliation. That includes the authority to execute and deliver all agreements, contracts, instruments, filings, and other documents.

WMU Vice President for Business and Finance Jan Van Der Kley recommended the resolution to the board and remarked on the long, cordial, and collaborative relationship between WMU and Cooley. She also noted the benefits to the University that would come from such an affiliation as well as its fit with WMU’s strategic plan.

“Today, there are 82 public universities with law schools accredited by the American Bar Association,” she said. “WMU will become No. 83.”

Earlier this year the two schools announced April 2 that a formal affiliation had been part of an informal three-year discussion by WMU President John M. Dunn and Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc. During recent months, the discussions broadened to examine the impact an affiliation would have on stakeholders, accreditation, financial responsibilities, and growth potential.

“We are delighted that Western Michigan University’s Board took this action to expand and enhance our already great relationship,” LeDuc said.

The affiliation agreement means Cooley would remain an independent nonprofit entity but would become known as the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

The next steps in the affiliation process, Van Der Kley said, will be for the schools’ respective accrediting agencies — ABA and the Higher Learning Commission for Cooley, and the Higher Learning Commission for WMU — to review the name change agreement that is part of the affiliation accord. Approval is expected to take place in the fall.

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