by Steven De Salvo
At its March 1 meeting, the Board of Trustees decided that the Law School should abandon its quest for American Bar Association (ABA) approval.
The decision surrenders any hope of accreditation for the financially stricken law school, at least for the rest of the school year. The institution will be maintained as a California Bar Association (CBA) accredited school.
The conclusion reached by the board is a major set-back for the Law School students because without ABA accreditation, one cannot practice outside of the state of California.
The executive committee of the Board of Trustees had examined each of the six options. One of these was to get a major donation to the Law School. When this never materialized, the only acceptable option, according to Dean Reese of the Law School, was to stop seeking ABA accreditation.
The institution operated at a high cost because it had to be maintained at ABA standards. By delaying ABA approval, it is hoped that costs can be cut.
“Selling or closing the Law School was just not acceptable. The consensus is to continue the school as CBA accredited and present a balanced budget,” said Dean Reese at the meeting. “We will wait until the institution is more financially stable, and then we may seek ABA approval.”
Dr. Armen Sarafian, ULV president, noted at the meeting that the Law School had met ABA standards.
“Last year, the report (from ABA) was laudatory about the Law School, but they were very cautious about the Law School’s financial condition.”
“We couldn’t advertise or recruit with the ABA standards we had met. The FTE (full-time equivalent) had dropped from 237 to 182. This had a great financial impact on the institution,” said Dr. Sarafian. “We have made a valiant effort to get a balanced budget, but we still have to get donations.”
The decision to quit seeking ABA approval was “the best action the board could have taken,” concluded Dr. Sarafian.
Dr. Donald Clague, vice-president of academics and graduate affairs, explained that the budget is not exactly balanced.
“We have a $27,000 deficit. However, gifts and the fund raising campaign will offset any deficit,” said Dr. Clague.
“And the Law School will not affect the rest of the institution. It’s just too bad we have to do this,” he said.
Dr. Clague assured the board that the school would continue to maintain day and night classes.
Dean Reese disclosed to the board that he expects enrollment to possibly increase.
“In the past few weeks, we have accepted 22 more students,” said the dean. “We should be able to get at least 100, and since 50 will graduate, we’re hoping to have a net gain of 50 students.”
In another matter, Board of Trustee President Mary E. La Fetra resigned from the presidency so that she could have more time to attend college and receive a degree. She will, however, remain a board member.
The board was also given a progress report on the University’s present academic and financial condition by Dr. Sarafian.
“We have many bills,” said Dr. Sarafian. “We are in a deep cash crunch.” “We do have individuals who are willing to give tight collateral for the loan,” explained Dr. Sarafian referring to the proposed $1.8 million loan. Interest of the loan is 1 percent above the “floating” prime rate. In recent days, the Federal Reserve raised the prime rate to 17.25 percent in an effort to curb inflation. The loan is over a 10-year period.
Dr. Sarafian also reported that the fund raising efforts of the phonathon had produced some large donations. At the phonathon so far, $41,000 has been raised through letters and phone calls. The goal is $95,000. Dr. Sarafian also noted that $1 million has been donated by a “friend of the institution.”
“We are meeting payroll,” said Dr. Sarafian. He did, however, seem to give a signal of warning. “We might have trouble in the late spring or early summer.”
Dr. Sarafian reported that problems remain in the business office. The difficulties are affecting students and faculty, as both Ross Barrons, student representative to the board and Dr. Katharine Hoskins, professor of English and faculty representative to the board, pointed out.
“Faculty morale is low,” said Dr. Hoskins. “We are very unhappy, very unhappy, indeed.”
Barrons described the students as “unhappy concerning the (shortage of) textbooks.”
It was announced by Dr. Sarafian that the problems of the business office “have taken an enormous toll on Dr. Earle Brewer” (vice president of finance and administrative services) and that they both agreed “that he should retire,” effective May 1, 1980. A replacement was not announced.
Later, it was decided by the board that an 8 percent salary increase would be granted in the overall fund of the University employees.
Upcoming accreditation and the election of new board members also were on the agenda.
The preparation of the accreditation visit by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) team was outlined.
A group of 25 members will tour the campus on March 24-28. The University has completed a self-study report under the new guidelines set by WASC. In this study, it was determined that out of nine standards examined at the University, three needed improvement.
Trustee members elected to the Executive Council were Kyhl Smeby, president; Ben Hepner, first vice-president; Richard Landis, second vice-president; and Barbara Dewey, secretary.
The 11 trustees elected to the executive board were Smeby, Hepner, Landis, Dewey, Rev. Arthur Baldwin, C. Harper Brubaker, Warren Carter, Willard V. Harris, D. Welty Levever, Owen Lewis and Richard Meriwether.