The approval process for Binghamton University’s proposed law school is moving along at a steady pace, according to BU officials.
University spokeswoman Gail Glover said the administration hopes all compulsory approvals for the school will be completed by the end of the academic year, though administrators want to ensure that the process is done in the proper manner.
“This is a significant undertaking and we continue to move ahead with the curricular and financial plans for submission to the appropriate approving bodies, including SUNY and the New York State Department of Education,” Glover said.
She also confirmed that the University is still working toward securing approvals that will meet accreditation requisites.
Officials are working on developing a 3+3 curricular program that will allow students to work toward their bachelor’s degree for three years and then continue right into three years of law school, Glover said. This program will focus on creating a fundamental understanding of history, philosophy and political science over the course of six years.
According to Glover, students will be given the option of either a traditional law school program or the 3+3 program.
“This program option will further enhance access and affordability to a quality program for students and make it possible for graduates to have more career choices without having substantial debt,” she added.
According to David Henahan, spokesman for the State University of New York, the law school plans need approval from the State University Board of Trustees, the New York State Board of Education and the governor. Henahan said he was unsure of which of these three stages the law school is currently in.
There has been $3.5 million allotted to BU for the law school. According to Glover, $3 million was apportioned to the SUNY Construction Fund for facility planning and the remaining half million was allocated for the general planning and development of the law school.
City of Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan is looking forward to the law school, and hopes it will be located in the actual city because he believes it will bring economic prosperity to Downtown Binghamton.
“The University has finally realized the economic impact that investments can have on an urban center like Binghamton,” he said.
Ryan said the law school, in addition to the predicted Campus Suites Downtown housing complex for students which is set to open by fall 2010, would be another attraction to aid in bringing students Downtown. According to Ryan, law students could take advantage of the Downtown housing project and live there instead of commuting from campus.
“Law schools really have nothing to do with campus, they are entity of themselves,” Ryan said.
He said he believes that the benefit of keeping the future law students on campus is not comparable with the effects that it could have if the students were housed in the Downtown complex.
According to Glover, who didn’t comment on a possible location for the school, BU’s current reputation in academic excellence, paired with its recognition of preparing students to be critical thinkers and writers, gives the University a strong underpinning for a law school.
“Our goal is to become one of the best public law schools in the nation,” Glover said.
Binghamton’s law school will be a public institution like BU and will therefore provide students with a prestigious legal education at an affordable cost, Glover said.
“Because of Binghamton University’s academic strengths, we are well positioned to develop high-quality legal education that will be more accessible for Binghamton students as well as other New York residents,” Glover said.