Indiana’s Valparaiso University has entered a nonbinding letter of intent to transfer its law school to Middle Tennessee State University, located in Murfreesboro.
The news was reported Friday by the Daily News Journal. Sidney A. McPhee, the Tennessee school’s president, wrote in a statement that the agreement would be like a gift, rather than the university buying or merging with the law school.
“Our exploration of this proposal is in keeping with MTSU’s tradition and strategic priority of pursuing innovative partnerships that create meaningful opportunities for our students, our region and our state,” McPhee said in the news release, which also noted that the transfer would require approval from each university’s governing board and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission & Student Assistance Corp.
A Valpo statement described the discussions as “preliminary.” The university’s board of directors in November voted to suspend the admission of first-year students at the law school for the fall of 2018. The decision came a few days after the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar removed a 2016 public censure, which at the time stated that the law school was not in compliance with admissions standards.
Andrea Lyon, the law school’s former dean, told the ABA Journal in November that part of the plan to come into compliance with ABA accreditation standards was to raise its median LSAT score. That year it averaged out to 151, compared to 147 in 2017.
The law school had 575 students in 2010 and 237 students in 2017, the Post-Tribune reported.
Tennessee has six law schools. Four have ABA accreditation and one, Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University, has provisional accreditation. In April the accreditation committee of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar found Duncan “significantly out of compliance” with Standards 501(a) and (b), which state that schools admit candidates who appear capable of finishing law school and passing a bar exam.