Trustees approve moving forward with Cooley Law affiliation

Contact: Cheryl Roland

KALAMAZOO--A proposed affiliation between Western Michigan University and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is a step closer to reality today after the WMU Board of Trustees voiced its approval for the move and authorized the University's administration to proceed with the initiative.

By voice vote at its April 18 meeting, the board approved a resolution authorizing development of an agreement for the University to affiliate with Cooley. The board also authorized WMU President John M. Dunn to "take all actions necessary to implement the establishment of this agreement," including consultation with the appropriate accrediting bodies. The resolution calls for the president to periodically advise trustees of the status of the agreement.

The board resolution noted that Cooley would remain an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity but would become known as the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The resolution passed by the WMU trustees is similar to one that Cooley's board of directors has already approved.

"I'm very pleased with the action of our board, which was taken after receiving extremely positive responses to the affiliation idea both on our campus and in the community at large," Dunn said following the meeting. "This is consistent with what all of our stakeholders embrace, the idea of working together in a way that will benefit both entities."

The two schools announced April 2 that a formal affiliation had been part of an informal three-year discussion by 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.

The initiative builds on a long and successful relationship between the two schools that includes a number of existing graduate dual-degree programs and shared physical facilities for a time in the Grand Rapids area. Since announcing the possibility of an affiliation, a number of additional synergies have been discussed. Among them are the possibility of a 3+3 program allowing students to complete their bachelor's and law degrees in just six years; interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities for faculty; and additional joint course offerings in areas that might focus on the legal environment for business, education, health care or intellectual property.

About Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Founded in 1972, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is a private, nonprofit, independent law school accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Cooley has provided its more than 17,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world. Cooley offers its Juris Doctor program, joint degree programs, and Master of Laws programs three times a year with enrollment in January, May and September. Cooley Law School has campuses across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, and a new campus in Tampa Bay, Fla.