September 11, 2006

Law school dean plans ambitious recruiting trip

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Dean Peter C. Alexander spares no effort in recruiting prospective students to Southern Illinois University's School of Law.

Later this month, Alexander will fly more than 3,000 miles to visit potential law school students at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. While recruiting is an important piece of the journey, Alexander also emphasizes that it provides a chance to strengthen ties with alumni and meet potential employers for current law school students.

Alaska is the only state in the nation that has no law school, and this is an opportunity to present SIUC to interested pre-law students, he said. Alexander graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston in 1983, and worked in spring 1982 as a law clerk for the Anchorage-based Birch, Horton, Bittner and Cherot.

Many law school students from Northeastern spend part of their law school career as a law clerk in Alaska, and in turn, many undergraduate students in Alaska think of Northeastern as a place to go to law school, Alexander said.

For students who are looking for a public interest education, "to go to a school where tuition is reasonable makes a lot of sense, and I think it's important to give students some options as they think about where they might want to go to law school," he said.

Alexander is looking forward to returning to Alaska for several reasons.

"I loved the time I lived in Alaska and look forward to visiting with some of the people at the firm who are still there. I am looking forward to getting to know our alums and really looking forward to having the opportunity to talk with students at the University of Alaska campuses," he said.

There are currently four SIUC law school alumni in Anchorage; the law school has alumni in each state except North Dakota. The alumni remain in contact with the law school and Alexander wants to personally thank them for their support.

"It's important for me to visit with our alumni wherever they happen to be," Alexander said. "Since we have four alumna in Anchorage and we have the opportunity to talk to the University of Alaska students, it made sense to combine efforts and go up there and do that."

Alexander will present a power point presentation about choosing a law school, discuss SIU School of Law, and help students understand what SIUC looks for in students, he said.

There are "potentially dozens of prospective law students who have never thought about our law school as a place to go and I want to have the opportunity to bring our message to them," Alexander said.

Diversity at the law school is also an important consideration, Alexander said. Last year's minority class was 16 percent, compared with about 3.5 percent when he arrived in June 2003.

Recruiting is becoming more difficult as the number of law schools increases and the potential applicant pools shrink. That means law schools "have to be more creative to market themselves and to make connections with prospective students," said Alexander, whose previous recruiting visits included Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville, Indianapolis, Chicago and St. Louis.

"We try to multitask when the dean goes out because funds are limited and we want to make the best use of the people's money," Alexander said. "To meet with students, alumni and prospective employers all in one trip is a very efficient way to get our message out and interact with a lot of different constituencies."

Offering a progressive graduate and professional education that attracts high-quality graduate and professional students and faculty is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.


Dean Peter C. Alexander

Dean Peter C. Alexander
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