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Ask the Dean

Headlines for the Week of November 7, 2011

Ask the Dean

Starting this week, the SBA will be hosting a new Record section called "Ask the Dean." We will be posting a question directly to Dean Krent along with his response to that question. If there is anything on your mind that you would like to ask the Dean, this is your opportunity. Please submit questions to sbachicagokent@gmail.com.

Q&A with Dean Krent

November 7, 2011 -- Question: Several students have questions about the law school's budget. How are recent upgrades, such as the wireless system and classroom technology, funded? How are smaller additions funded, such as the kiosk in front of the school? Do those upgrades come solely from tuition? What did the revenue from the tuition increase fund?

Answer: Every year in the fall, IIT requests each college to prepare a proposed budget for the following fiscal year (June1 – May 31st). In the last few years with the advent of the economic crisis, the expectation is that the operating budget will be the same as the year before, although each college can reallocate monies from one department to another. Raises for faculty and staff during the same period have been minimal to nonexistent. Some of the modest tuition increase has been directed towards raises (e.g., promotions), some towards increased health care costs, some towards increased student scholarships, and some to help the university escape from its budget deficit (which thankfully will occur by the end of this fiscal year). 

Nonetheless, unexpected expenses arise that we then must fund through prior savings, philanthropy, or an appeal to the main administration. For example, in the past two years we have been forced to replace the fire alarm system and the concrete around the building, decided to establish a new wireless system throughout the building, and decided to start enhancing the technology in the classrooms. The SBA pushed for the latter two projects, and we agreed that both projects would benefit students considerably over time. The university chipped in and helped with the fire alarm system, and we dipped into savings to pay for the concrete project and classroom technology upgrade. Indeed, had we not used that particular pot of money for the technology upgrade (or for a similar project), we would have lost it per university policy. We generally cannot rely upon savings to fund law school operations without special permission from the university. In the absence of budgeted monies, we must rely on philanthropy. Indeed, we resorted to philanthropy exclusively to design, acquire, and build the kiosk and sign in the front of the building. Currently, we are looking to philanthropy to be able to build a second (smaller) courtroom. I am just hopeful that we will not have to tackle any other major unforeseen project in the near future!

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