April 17, 2014
Faculty Conversations about Student Fellowships
April 17, 2014
Dear Oregon Law Faculty, Staff, and Students,
These are challenging times at every law school in the country, and the past several days have been particularly stressful for many of us in the Oregon Law community. I believe that we can, at this point, move forward most productively by focusing on a commitment we share: enhancing the professional success of our students.
As many of you know, at last Friday’s faculty meeting, a group of faculty members raised an idea related to enhancing funding for student fellowships. They introduced a motion asking me to explore with the Provost whether a portion of the funds the university planned to provide to underwrite faculty raises could, instead, be used to fund student fellowships over the coming years. I am certain the motivations underlying the substance of this inquiry were selfless and admirable, and I commend our faculty for their creativity.
The proposal prompted vigorous debate. Given the importance of the issues and the circumstances, the presence of heartfelt divergent viewpoints was entirely understandable. However, the conversation quickly escalated. And unfortunately, it moved into forums that are less conducive to the productive assessment of proposals or candid dialogue among colleagues.
As I told the faculty earlier this week, I inquired with the Provost about the possibility of reallocating faculty salary increase funds in this way. The Provost expressed his appreciation for the motivations underlying the request but made it clear that the dollars coming from the University to the law school for faculty compensation this year cannot be diverted for a different use.
This particular avenue is not open. But our shared institutional commitment to supporting our students’ professional success remains as strong as ever, if not stronger. I have heard a number of new, creative ideas from faculty members in the past couple days, and I am confident that our collective energies and passions will lead us in positive directions.
To our students: The faculty and staff of this law school are committed to you. We are in this with you. And we will do everything we can to help you be successful.
Philip H. Knight Dean
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