Message from University of West Los Angeles School of Law (UWLA) President Robert Brown (total good news).

Dear UWLA executive management team, faculty and staff. While it is fresh in my mind, I want to circle back and commend our entire institutional team on the recent great achievements. After tremendous efforts and team work by  all, we have achieved amazing institutional victories and goals. I want to ask everyone to reflect on what we recently achieved and then re-direct your energies and efforts to the formidable challenges facing us this year.

  1. In February of this year, we hosted a WASC accreditation visit and were extremely successful in evidencing to the team, why we deserve to be re-accredited. Just as a reminder, this visit occurred because we received our initial accreditation two years ago, and WASC requires a backup visit within two years of the initial accreditation. Yes, it has been two years already since we received initial accreditation! Our entire team from the board of managers to our faculty and every staff person contributed to the successful re-accreditation visit. Dean Frykberg and Dean Brown, led our tremendous faculty and  staff in preparing an accreditation self-study that had over 7,000 pages of evidence. Our accreditation report from the visiting team had a number of outstanding commendations and in particular cited our faculty, Deans and the Board of managers and our CFO. We will attend the WASC conference in June to meet with the full WASC committee and we expect to receive full renewal of accreditation  based upon the WASC team report and their overall recommendation.  Great job team! Thanks Faculty and staff.
  2. As most of you know, our state bar accreditation visit came on the heels of our WASC visit in February. It was intentionally scheduled that way to allow us to piggy back our efforts in preparing for WASC to prepare similarly for the State Bar. Recall that WASC focused on the performance of the entire university. The State bar was more programmatic, but entailed the university as a whole in addition. Again our self-study report was voluminous and contained over 7,000 pages of backup evidence. Most of you participated in the actual state bar team interviews. Needless to say, the state bar team members were so very impressed and complimentary of our various departments and in particular gave glowing commendations to our registrar, Patty White and our admission and recruitment team of Troy Brown, Verdell Baskin, Shadi Jafari and Grace Williams, and of course our outstanding faculty. Troy Brown and his admission and recruitment team were particularly recognized for being the lifeblood of our tuition driven institution and doing it with such care, skill and dedication. What a wonderful team win and the efforts of everyone are to be highly commended and recognized. At the exit interview, the state bar team chair, who has had extensive and long-term connections with UWLA indicated just how impressed she was in the progress and transformation of UWLA. Needless to say, we expect to receive a glowing report from the team and a recommendation from them of renewal of accreditation for an additional five years. Ironically if we are fortunate this may be the last state bar accreditation review for UWLA. This results because there is a bill in front of the bar and the Supreme Court, which will exempt UWLA from state bar review if we  have regional accreditation from WASC. We will get our final status sometime in June. Needless to say, I am very positive and optimistic about the outcome.
  3. I am ecstatic about the success of our Traynor Moot court team in winning the recent virtual moot court competition. Our team under the leadership of Professor David Glassman, again swept most of the awards and trophies.  An important element to remember is that there were many ABA teams, i.e., UCLA, Cal Berkeley, etc.   in the competition. The appellate court judges judging the teams were not informed of the affiliation of the various contestants until after the competition was determined! So they had no idea what school the competitors were from until after the awards were presented. That clearly demonstrates that our university  can produce lawyers comparable to any other university, ABA accredited or otherwise. It takes nothing from the other schools but shows what our professors and students can achieve If given the right opportunity and support. That is at the heart of our mission: Opportunity and proper support and direction. One of the students on the winning team, based upon her initial qualifying scores would probably have not had a chance to attend law at any other law school other than ours where that chance is extended.  Professor Glassman again pushed our students to excel and compete at the highest levels and brought outstanding recognition and honor to our entire university.

  1. But we must not rest now on our laurels and that is a major reason why I am writing.  Emerging from the Post-Covid period, Institutions of higher education will be confronted with a fork in the road of unprecedented transition. The transition to virtual online education necessitated by the onslaught of the Covid virus has dramatically changed and shifted our entire societal approach, potentially to the delivery of education. New advances in technology have and will impact how the interface between student and professor will occur not only in terms of modalities but also in the manner in which curriculum is presented and how professors are trained pedagogically. I see this as an existential shift. A “quantum leap”.  How we implement this change individually and collectively, as an institution, will very well decide the fate of our university and the successful achievement of its mission for decades to come. If we are not successful, I dare say we may not exist in a decade. Forgive me for being so dramatic, but the magnitude of the challenge cannot be understated in my view.  I write to you to enlist your support and your thoughts and ideas on which path we should take in this “fork in the road”. I also ask for your open-mindedness and progressive attitudes as we jointly look for solutions to integrate these changes into the fabric of our institution.
  2. Let me tell you what I have in mind for our university and what I would like to solicit your “buy-in” on. There is technology and equipment available which is designed to allow students and professors effectively to engage whether they are present on campus or attending remotely online. As hopefully most of you have experienced, we had great success in transitioning to virtual online classroom training with the  zoom technology. Now let me go on record by saying, I don’t believe that the answer is solely online education. Especially for our students, who generally need more support and individual nurturing. However, many students and professors, post-pandemic will look for universities to provide them with hybrid options, on-campus and online, especially given their very hectic schedules and the pressure of the dueling demands of their lifestyles. I believe that we should be at the forefront of this transition and so I am looking to outfit all of our classrooms with technology by the fall that will provide our students and professors with the ability to interact effectively whether hybrid, remotely or on campus. I am not sure if resources will permit, but this is the goal. Dean Frykberg and Dean Brown and our entire staff are strategically surveying the options and I hope to make some determinations within the next two months. Of course, we will seek both student and faculty meaningful input into the selection process and the ultimate choices.
  3. We must also develop and implement new innovative ways of designing and creating curriculums that maximize the strengths of these new modalities and means of delivery of education.  We will provide the support for professors to adapt and embrace these new innovations. But also we want our professors to be a major part of this co-creative process. There needs to be an exchange between our younger professors and our more experienced professors to find creative and effective strategies and tactics to make the interaction between professor and student enriched and invigorating. I am encouraging your participation, involvement and contributions to now take UWLA to an even higher levels still rooted in our traditional mission of educational opportunity coupled with a supportive environment and practical meaningful professional education.
  4. Last I once again want to acknowledge again the efforts of some  of our leaders. Dean Frykberg has done just an outstanding job of leading us through these very trying and challenging times. He was the leader in preparing us institutionally to excel during both of our accreditation reviews. Great Job Dean Frykberg. Dean Brown has been so instrumental in keeping our new business school moving forward and growing even in the midst of the pandemic . Danielle Reeves, Tonya Parker-Jones and Diana Carrillo have worked tirelessly to put into place the administrative apparatus to enable  our university to provide federal financial aid to our students. We have tried to include everyone in this endeavor. We have tried to listen to everyone in this process. None of us feel that we have all of the answers. The challenges we are attempting to overcome are much too complex and dynamic to lend to any easy answers or simple solutions. But the combination of the contributions and input of all of us as a team will result in taking our university to a level on par with the best in the world. That is our mission and our goal on behalf of our community. Please join me in applauding the entire UWLA community. There were so many contributions from so many people especially our outstanding professors from both the school of business and the school of law. A shout out to all of them. Thanks for being at the forefront of making the UWLA educational experience so enriching and uplifting and continuously on point to capture the essence of our mission. I’m not going to try and mention everyone’s name for fear that by omission I will sleight someone. Everything that we do at UWLA is to put our professors and students at the center of our institutional efforts and production. I thank everyone and I appreciate you taking the time to internalize my message. Have a great week and thank you!

Robert Brown

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