KALAMAZOO — An affiliation agreement in the works for more than a year has led to a new identity for Cooley Law School to become Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
Completion of the arrangement between the private nonprofit law school and the public research university drew officials from both schools to the WMU campus today to announce that the affiliation is now effective for the nation’s largest law school.
The event was also used to roll out the law school’s new visual identity and reveal a number of initiatives that will benefit current and future students of both schools as well as the communities they serve.
Proposals included an announcement that WMU Cooley Law will offer first-year law classes on WMU’s Kalamazoo campus in fall 2015. In addition, faculty at both schools have begun the work of developing both a law minor and a 3+3 program at WMU that will allow students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in just six years.
“We were delighted that our respective accrediting bodies have given the nod to the affiliation between Cooley and Western Michigan University,” says WMU President John M. Dunn. “This move will broaden the range of opportunities available to students, expand the collaboration and research options available to faculty members, and improve the range of services to students, employees and our respective communities.”
The affiliation agreement won the approval of both schools’ governing boards last year and was signed and awaiting only the review of the accrediting agencies of the Higher Learning Commission and the American Bar Association. The agreement is expected to enable initiatives that will leverage the common commitment both institutions have to educational access, diversity, applied research and professional preparation. Under terms of the agreement, both schools retain their independent governance structures and separate fiduciary responsibilities.
The affiliation agreement builds on a decade-long relationship between the two schools that includes three existing graduate dual-degree programs and, for a time, shared physical facilities in the Grand Rapids area.
Cooley and WMU’s joint degree programs currently lead to these degrees: a Juris Doctor / Master of Public Administration, a J.D./ Master of Business Administration and a J.D./Master of Social Work. In addition, preliminary discussions have begun on the potential for leveraging such shared areas of expertise as ethics, health care, life sciences, intellectual property, entrepreneurialism, homeland security, tax law and sustainability.
“Now is a great time for our schools to affiliate in a deeper relationship. I have been excited about this from the start,” says Don LeDuc, president and dean of Cooley.
“WMU just affiliated with its medical school and has had an interest in adding a law school affiliation. We have been looking to expand and deepen relationships with a university, and WMU is the right choice for Cooley because of the similarities of our missions, operating philosophies, academic programs, student bodies and locations.”