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Law school rises in magazine assessment

By Julian Lopez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 23, 1999
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The University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law moved up in U.S. News and World Report rankings released Friday - possibly because of a recent $115 million donation, the college dean said.

The UA's law school was ranked 36th by a U.S. News and World Report guide to graduate schools, up four spots from last year. The study ranks colleges' academics, reputation, faculty resources and research activity.

Law school Dean Joel Seligman said he believes the multimillion dollar gift from UA alum James E. Rogers, owner of Sunbelt Communications and KVBC-TV in Las Vegas, may have already been incorporated in this year's rankings.

"The gift gives us more resources to hire more academics, to increase faculty size and new career services," Seligman said. "He [Rogers] has created the permanent basis for what will emerge as one of the outstanding law schools of the 21st century."

Seligman said he also credits new scholastic programs, conferences and sabbatical visitors to the university with the ranking's boost.

However, Seligman said he has reservations about U.S. News' rankings.

"I'm skeptical about the ratings because they keep changing," he said. "Even so, there is a crude sense [of correctness] about them, but there are too many surprises."

Arizona State University dropped five spots, from 44th to 49th. But the largest disparity between the law colleges was a move from 29th to 15th by the University of Texas at Austin.

Seligman said although the ratings fluctuate, he can't disregard them.

"In reality we have to realize that these rankings do affect student application," he said.

Dennis Walsh, who said he hopes to attend the UA law school, said that the rankings are valuable.

"It's quite important," said Walsh, an electrical engineering junior. "I see the guides as fairly comprehensive, independent evaluations of programs and I do give them quite a bit of consideration."

One problem, Seligman said, is the UA's location.

"I firmly believe that if we [the school] were in Westchester County or in the San Francisco Bay area, our ranking would be different. "

But he said one attractive feature of the UA law school is the $4,358 per semester tuition.

"Our strong point is that in a period of time, we will have the lowest in-state tuition among schools," he said.

Seligman added he thinks the law school has the potential to rise in the rankings, though that would depend on the progress made by other schools in comparison.

"My only hesitations are my skepticism about the report itself and the fact that as we improve, other schools improve as well," he said.