Indiana Tech turns out to have a reason for this move: ABA accreditation. According to scam-dean Cercone, the ABA intimated that Indiana Tech was insufficiently selective: its "admission standards going forward needed to be more in line with standards for other new law schools". Cercone concluded that a "stronger … student profile" would favor accreditation.
But Indiana Tech cannot bet the farm on a three-point increase in median LSAT score. Right after its failed bid for accreditation, it brought in a scamster named John Nussbaumer as its "new Associate Dean for ABA Accreditation and Bar Preparation". Nussbaumer went to Indiana Tech with "31 years of full-time faculty experience at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, including 18 years in senior academic leadership positions".
Now, Nussbaumer wasn't hired for his ability to dot every i and cross every t on the application. No, two other notable factors got him lured away from his sinecure at Cooley. First, he has experience in winning accreditation for other law schools: "[h]e has appeared more than a dozen times before the ABA Accreditation Committee and Council of Legal Education, helping lead successful efforts to secure provisional and full approval for three different law school branch campuses" (presumably a reference to Cooley). Second, and undoubtedly more important, he is an insider in the ABA accreditation scam:
He has served as a member of the ABA Section of Legal Education Diversity Committee, and he is currently a fact-finder and site inspection team member for the ABA Accreditation Committee. He has worked collaboratively on accreditation issues with the staff of the ABA Managing Director’s Office, including Managing Director Barry Currier, and has also worked on accreditation issues with the ABA House of Delegates, the ABA Standards Review Committee, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific, and Progressive Caucuses.With its hired gun Nussbaumer, Indiana Tech can be expected to—ahem—procure accreditation just in time for the graduation of its inaugural class. But how much is this costing the parent university?
A few years ago, when the building of this law school was announced, Indiana Tech University had a $40M endowment. I conservatively estimate outlays of $6M per year for the law school. (If the average salary is $100k and other charges such as benefits and payroll taxes add half of that, the 28 employees cost $4.2M per year.) Had the law school succeeded at bringing in 100 students in each class and maintaining its annual tuition at $30k, by now it would have been reaping $9M per year in income. Discounts on tuition would have reduced that figure, but the theoretical annual surplus of $3M could have made up for many discounts, shortfalls in enrollment, and other deficiencies.
In its first year, Indiana Tech was quite stingy with discounts. Only one person got half of tuition waived, and his "discount" actually exceeded tuition. (I'm willing to bet that he was Felts, the boy who on Indiana Tech's Web site posed in an unprofessional orange-yellow necktie and announced that people should "certainly" attend Indiana Tech on the advice of a local judge—without mentioning the significant fact that that judge happened to be his father.) So probably the people who approved the establishment of the law school calculated that the thing would break even at 75 students per year (¾ of the anticipated 100), maybe even fewer, and that in any event the university would cover any shortfalls for the first five or six years.
Instead, total enrollment has not yet come close to the figure anticipated for the first class alone, and tuition is now at zero. The university must be covering just about the entire cost of operating its toilet law school—not to mention the cost of two bids for ABA accreditation. That's one hell of a drain on an endowment that several years ago stood at $40M. And the rest of the university depends on that endowment, too.
On top of all that, the university now has to pay for an "Associate Dean for ABA Accreditation and Bar Preparation" who was approaching retirement from a cushy job at Cooley. For how long can the university afford to sustain its financial sinkhole of a law school? The endowment must be badly depleted, and the law school won't be viable even if (rather, when) it becomes accredited. Expect this toilet to be flushed once and for all within two or three years.
Thanks to Dybbuk for much of the information that inspired today's article.