• Dean’s Message: In These Hard Times

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    One of our main articles in this issue focuses on our country’s financial crisis. Lyman Johnson, School of Law professor, and Tom Abood, Board of Governors member, rightly point out that this crisis, as terrible as it may prove to be for many Americans, also will provide opportunity. Perhaps the most significant opportunity is the chance for the business and legal communities, along with our governmental leaders, to reflect on the factors that caused this crisis. Without question, a significant failing was moral in nature – unbridled greed that overwhelmed prudence, sound business judgment, and a care and concern for those in our society susceptible to manipulation by sharp or fraudulent business practices.

    Reflecting on the nature and importance of ethical leadership during good and bad times lies at the wheelhouse of our mission as a law school, especially through the activities of our Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions. In the coming weeks and months, look for the programming the Holloran Center will offer to help our community think beyond this crisis and find long-term solutions. The Holloran Center is working with many partners to talk about not just policy solutions, but the response of individuals. Working with ideas such as the pervasive debt culture, those involved with the Holloran Center are taking a hard look at what factors placed us in such perilous circumstances, and what role leaders and lawyers must take in order to steer us toward a brighter future.

    There will be many opportunities for lawyers to take the lead in shaping a new business and legal order. Attorneys – and I hope some of them will be St. Thomas graduates – will work with business clients and government to position our communities on a more secure footing for the future.

    As many of you already are experiencing, however, some from our St. Thomas community will face personal challenges, financial struggles and professional disappointments. All of us stand ready to assist our graduates. Career and Professional Development Director Alanna Moravetz and Cathy Powell Finnegan, assistant director, will be reaching out to those of you who would benefit from advice and support.Another question that friends of the law school may have during this time is about the financial footings of the School of Law. Let me assure you that we are taking the necessary steps to make sure that we do not just survive the current economic slowdown, but we continue taking strides to ensure that we live up to our mission.

    Difficult times demonstrate the vitality of the mission and the need to educate individuals who will serve professionally and support social justice for all. Yes, there will be some hard decisions. The temperature in the building has been turned down a notch, and we watch expenditures a little more closely. We are committed, however, to ensuring that we do not cut budgets to the detriment either of the student experience or our mission.

    In these hard times, my colleagues and I will keep you and your families in our thoughts and prayers. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us if we can be of assistance.

    Thomas M. Mengler
    Dean and Ryan Chair in Law
    University of St. Thomas School of Law

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