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Ask the Dean

Headlines for the Week of April 2, 2012

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

April 2, 2012--Why is there a delay between when funds are received from the federal government's loan programs and when students actually receive a credit in the bank account?  Does IIT make money during that period of time from interest? Is there anything the school can do to speed that process up?

Modest delay is needed between when federal loans are credited to student tuition accounts and when refunds are released to students (via direct deposit, etc.) to permit the financial aid and the bursar office staff to ensure compliance with the regulatory scheme.  Essentially, both offices must perform due diligence steps in order to check conformance with applicable Department of Education (DOE) Title IV regulations and university policy and procedures.  This includes verification of enrollment status, comparing the number of actual credit hours vs. estimated credit hours for FA funding, making sure that the loan money has actually arrived from the DOE, etc.   In addition, more time is needed to process student refunds when loan volume reaches its peak at the beginning of each term.  

In addition, there may be delays beyond the university’s control after IIT sends students refunds to the bank clearinghouse.  Some banks pull funds from the bank clearinghouse on a daily basis while other banks do this only a few times each week.   In no event does IIT benefit, as would a bank, from delays in releasing the refunds.

February 13, 2012 --  Question: I've noticed that Kent has shortened the library and building hours on Saturdays and Fridays, while simultaneously the administration has raised our tuition. I know that I and many of my fellow students, would utilize the library if it had longer weekend hours and therefore would like to see these hours extended. What is the cause for the reduction in hours (i.e. financial, efficiency, staffing problem)? Is there any way the student body could extend these hours by popular demand?

Friday library hours have been 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. for a long time, but it may seem as if they have been cut because hours are always extended till 11:00 p.m. during read period/exams.

The cutback of Saturday hours was not done due to the budget, but rather as a way to use our resources more wisely.  We found that most of the people who use the library on Saturdays after 5:00 p.m. are members of the public, including 25-30 students from local medical schools, rather than our own students. The Library talked with student government representatives as well as faculty and administrators before the decision was made, and there was no objection. Library staff also surveyed law students in spring 2011 after the hours were reduced, and fewer than 10 students of the 130 who responded suggested longer Saturday hours. That result is about the same as the numbers in an SBA survey taken in October 2011.

That being said, we remain open to altering library hours.  If any of you w ish to revisit the issue, I suggest you contact the SBA and Keith Ann Stiverson, the Director of the Library, kstivers@kentlaw.edu, whose office is in Suite 871.

January 23, 2012 -- Question: It is my understanding that Kent predates IIT and we had a building before joining IIT. Now we contribute to IIT's functional budget and pay them rent for our facilities. What does the law school actually receive from IIT and its staff and how did we go from having our own building to paying rent?

Chicago-Kent College of Law merged with IIT in 1969.  There likely have been 20 different financial models since that time.  Our current location at 565 West Adams is the second new building (the first was at 77 South Wacker) after the merger, and financing for both new buildings included fundraising and long-term debt that IIT as a whole assumed.  Under President Anderson, we pay “rent” to IIT for use of facilities at 565 West Adams rather than pay for the debt and upkeep of the building as we did before, although we remain in charge of keeping the building up to date.  As discussed in answer to a prior question, we are entitled to general IIT administrative services in exchange for our rent and overhead payments, including those at the general counsel’s office (always good to start a list with legal services), disability and health services offices, payroll office, HR office, bursar’s office and so forth.

December 5, 2011 -- Question: How much of Chicago-Kent's revenue (tuition, donations, etc.) is diverted to non-law IIT programs?

Under IIT’s Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) budgeting system, each of IIT’s eight colleges is assessed a portion of the general university operating expenses as these are true costs of our operation, such as for the President’s Office, the General Counsel’s Office, Institutional Advancement, a portion of budgeted capital expenditures, and so forth.  Moreover, as for other colleges, we are assessed “rent” based on the square footage we occupy at 565 West Adams.  If we spend less than budgeted, or bring in more revenue than projected, so that we exceed our budget result positively, we share with the central administration a portion of such “profit,” which is spent within the Law School in the following year.  In contrast, no money raised from foundations or individuals is shared – all monies raised directly benefit the law school.  And, as you no doubt have heard, I am pleased to relay that IIT will end the fiscal year with its first balanced budget in many a year and IIT Chicago Kent is a positive contributor to the success of our university.”

November 21, 2011 -- Question: Why does our legal writing program use the ALWD manual for citation?  It seems as though most other schools, as well as law firms, courts, etc. use Bluebook.  Having to learn a new system of citation puts us at a disadvantage in our current/future jobs, as well as if we participate in law review, moot court, etc. 

Answer: From Mary Rose Strubbe, Professor of Legal Research and Writing; Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program; and Assistant Director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace: Chicago-Kent’s writing program  adopted the ALWD Citation Manual in the late 1990s, when it was first published.  The impetus for the creation of the Manual , and for its adoption at C-K, was a particularly dense new edition of the Bluebook in which the authors changed several rules for no discernible reason, added lots of minutiae, and provided virtually no examples and an almost unusable index.  The ALWD Manual’s stated reasons for being were to change rules only when there was a good reason, to provide a usable index, and to provide useful examples.

I think the ALWD Manual does a reasonably good job of achieving these objectives.  Since the initial publication of the ALWD Manual, the Bluebook has added examples and has refrained from too many arbitrary changes in rules.

I don’t think the use of the ALWD Manual in any way disadvantages our students.  The basic citation rules for practitioner writing in ALWD and the Bluebook are the same.  Thus, if a lawyer hands you a draft memorandum of law to a trial court and asks you if you know how to “Bluebook,” I advise my students to say “yes,” because for all practical, day to day purposes, they do.  And if they are confused about the more esoteric rules, and work for a lawyer who lives with the current version of the Bluebook (highly unlikely), they can go to the ALWD website and download the handy charts outlining the differences in ALWD and Bluebook citation rules. The Bluebook is “used” by most law reviews as the bible for formatting law review article footnotes, not for writing to courts.  Further, over the past fifteen years there has been a proliferation of citation manuals and systems, and I expect this trend to increase in future.  For example, Judge Posner, of the Seventh Circuit, has created his own set of “rules” for his clerks, and views all formal citation manuals as too large and nonsensically nitpicky (I hope he will forgive me for the brief paraphrase of his published views).  Other court systems and states have moved to other citation systems, without regard for the Bluebook or ALWD’s views on citation. 

So I think the citation manual from which students learn basic citation is of diminishing importance.

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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