As I write this, I am completing my work at the School of Law and preparing for a new professional challenge. It has been an intense time. I have enjoyed the several opportunities to say goodbye to so many of you, friends who mean so much to me and my wife, Mona. Over the last few weeks, my colleagues and I have laughed again in remembering the many funny moments of the last 10 years.
We have shed a few tears. And we have reflected on the law school’s achievements, the challenges of the past and those coming in the future, but also the many opportunities ahead. We do have challenges ahead, but I feel so confident about the School of Law’s future. My confidence begins with our deeply embedded culture of excellence among faculty and staff. Just last year Princeton Review ranked our faculty eighth among law faculties for the quality of their teaching and their accessibility to students. Our faculty consistently scores among the top 40 or 50 in the country for scholarly productivity and impact. What remarkable achievements for such a young law school and a relatively small group of faculty.
I also will miss our talented staff. Across the board, these fine men and women are focused each year on making the administrative functions of the law school better than they were the previous year and on making sure that students are served and served well. This is such a strong staff, I wish I could take them all with me to Texas!
A second reason I am so confident is because of how we have come to understand and live our mission, as a necessary component of educating students to lead purposeful, accomplished lives as lawyers and legal professionals. As you know, very few law schools have any kind of mission. For that reason alone, because the School of Law has a distinctive niche, a distinctive brand, we are leaders of the pack. Our mission, however, does not just distinguish us from a non- descript horde. Because our mission so clearly facilitates the values and soft skills that are essential to professional success as a lawyer, our mission is also the key to the School of Law’s recognition for its cutting-edge, highly relevant program.
A third feature of the School of Law that brings me joy is the quality of the individuals who are our students and our graduates. The men and women who have passed through the School of Law are already or will soon be leading our communities. You came to St. Thomas because we promised a different kind of experience. We promised a community where you could learn and grow. And you have made it so. Now you are taking on the world outside; and I look forward to seeing you become judges and justices, law firm partners, and political and community leaders.
I feel so fortunate to have played a role in this law school’s formative years. I am blessed to have grown as a person and as a leader by taking part in our great community. I am honored to have served you as dean. I will take great pride in the countless ways in which your daily contributions – great and small – bring about positive change in the lives of your clients, in our justice system and legal profession, and in our greater communities. God bless you all. I will miss you and this law school.
Thomas M. Mengler Dean and Ryan Chair in Law
University of St. Thomas School of Law
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