It is truly an honor to be selected as the incoming Dean of the University of Wyoming College of Law. The opportunity to join you as Dean at this special point in time, the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, is both exciting and challenging, but the mission is straightforward: to continue building upon the success of my predecessors and to exceed expectations about what we can achieve as a leading public law school.
The University of Wyoming College of Law ranks among the nation’s best public law schools in terms of location, affordability, quality of life, clinical and experiential education, and service to the community and the state. Of course, many people are familiar with the University’s fortuitous location in the beautiful mountain west and its abundant energy resources, but few realize that the State of Wyoming leads the nation in its financial effort to support public higher education. Strong support for higher education means that residents (and many nonresidents) can attend the University of Wyoming for less money, accrue less debt, and study in an environment that provides one of the most favorable faculty-student ratios in the nation. Moreover, the City of Laramie this year was ranked sixth in the nation in overall quality of life for college towns by Forbes Magazine.
Quality of life is important, but “learning by doing” is the College of Law’s real strength. No other public law school provides its students with opportunities, while in law school, to argue cases before the state Supreme Court, shape natural resource policy in the State Attorney General’s Office, travel to Alaska to conduct mock trials, and work with a war crimes tribunal in Cambodia. Unique experiential learning opportunities at the state, national and international levels offer Wyoming law students experiences above and beyond the typical law school program, which enables them to hit the ground running when they begin their legal careers.
As a public institution, the College of Law is dedicated to making a difference. The ample experiential learning opportunities empower students and faculty to make service an integral part of the legal profession, and provide much needed services to Wyoming and beyond. Through innovative opportunities, the law school trains attorneys who will be strong leaders in their communities and multi-faceted in their practice, while faculty provide expertise on local, national, and global issues as they relate to the state.
Still, there are challenges facing legal education today which we must be prepared to address if the College of Law is going to be successful in the long-run, including a decline in law school applications, increasing student loan debt, a tougher legal market for law graduates, and a nation-wide trend of state disinvestment in higher education. It is, therefore, critical that the State of Wyoming and the College of Law work together to create new opportunities for our students and keep the cost of legal education down so that these challenges do not undermine our success.
This is a new era in the University of Wyoming College of Law’s history. In order to maintain its excellence, the College of Law must be able to respond to change in a progressive manner and advance the core values of its mission. In the coming years, I hope to build upon those subject areas in which we have a comparative advantage, such as energy and natural resource law, while maintaining a well-rounded curriculum necessary for our students to succeed on the bar exam and pursue any line of work. Further, to stay ahead of the competition, we must expand our resource and funding base, enhance our clinical program facilities, and educate our students to think globally and locally in providing legal services.
The privilege to serve as Dean of the University of Wyoming College of Law is a tremendous honor, and I am thankful for the opportunity. The College of Law is well-positioned to raise its profile, rise in the rankings, and become the “go to” law school in the Mountain West. We have to work together to achieve these goals, and I am confident we can and will get there.
Klint W. Alexander
Klint W. Alexander, Ph.D, J.D.
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Wyoming College of Law