via reports from Texas A&M and Texas Wesleyan University
The Texas Wesleyan University Board of Trustees has approved a letter of intent for Texas Wesleyan University and Texas A&M University to enter into a strategic partnership that would provide premier legal education in North Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for decades to come. Under the proposed multi-million dollar agreement, the school would be known as the Texas A&M School of Law at Texas Wesleyan University.
“Last October, Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp approached me about a unique strategic partnership,” Texas Wesleyan President Frederick G. Slabach said. “After months of careful consideration, we both consider this to be a mutually beneficial collaboration with limitless possibilities.”
Among the future offerings would be a joint law school JD/Texas Wesleyan MBA program and also a Texas Wesleyan undergraduate/law school 3+3 program. These new programs exemplify how the partnership would allow for the development of collaborative academic programming that will have a lasting impact on students. The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents is expected to meet later this week to take up pending business, including whether to provide approval for the Texas A&M-TWU partnership.
“In creating the Texas A&M University School of Law at Texas Wesleyan, we are finally expanding the Texas A&M brand into the field of law with a focus on emerging fields that require a growing legal expertise,” said Chancellor Sharp.
Sharp also put the law school partnership in the context of recent major announcements, saying, “In the last week we have received one of the largest federal grants since NASA was brought to Texas to develop life-saving vaccines and medical therapies, we announced a concession agreement for facilities and food services valued at more than a quarter billion dollars, and today we are forging a new partnership to create a long-sought Texas A&M School of Law, which will have a profound an impact on the future of Texas.”
“I applaud this announced strategic partnership between two fine Texas institutions of higher learning and am especially pleased that it includes a great United Methodist-affiliated university like Texas Wesleyan,” said Bishop Mike Lowry, Episcopal Leader for the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. “We look forward to the future and celebrate the focused momentum of Texas Wesleyan.” Texas Wesleyan’s campus resides within the United Methodist Central Texas Conference and earlier this month, the Central Texas Conference announced plans to relocate its conference staff and service center to the Texas Wesleyan campus.
The president of Texas A&M, R. Bowen Loftin, praised the new arrangement, saying, “Expanding Texas A&M’s graduate professional programs is one of the key tenets of Vision 2020, our long-range plan to become one of the country’s top 10 public institutions by the year 2020. If you look at the top universities – our peer institutions – most of them have a law school.
“We see today’s announcement as the next step in Texas A&M’s dramatic evolution from its beginnings as a regional, military-focused institution into one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious comprehensive universities in a short period of four decades.”
Under the agreement, Texas A&M would acquire ownership and operational control of the TWU law school. All faculty and staff of the law school would be employees of Texas A&M. Texas Wesleyan University would retain ownership and control of the law school building and four city blocks of land at the downtown Fort Worth campus and would lease the facilities to Texas A&M.
“The synergy of this strategic partnership is extraordinary,” said Kenneth H. Jones, Jr., chairman of Texas Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees. “Texas A&M stands to benefit from an already established, ABA-accredited law school. Fort Worth and the Metroplex would lay claim to an institution poised for first-tier status. And Texas Wesleyan would gain new academic programs that drive our vision of preparing motivated students for graduate school.”
Among the future offerings would be a joint law school JD/Texas Wesleyan MBA program and also a Texas Wesleyan undergraduate/law school 3+3 program. These new programs exemplify how the partnership would allow for the development of collaborative academic programming that will have a lasting impact on students.
The presidents of the two universities would appoint a Strategic Partnership Academic Coordinating Council to advise them on additional collaborative academic initiatives that would serve the students of each campus.
President Frederick G. Slabach served as dean at the School of Law from 2003 to 2006 and has remained a professor of law from 2006 to present. John Sharp was appointed chancellor of The Texas A&M University System by the Board of Regents on Sept. 6, 2011.