UHLC students ‘Talk to the Dean’ in wide-ranging session 

Dean Alderman

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Oct. 1, 2013 – University of Houston Law Center Interim Dean Richard M. Alderman brought students up to speed on developments in and around the Law Center and tackled some questions from the audience in an hour-long discussion Tuesday.

First, and possibly foremost in the minds of students, Alderman assured them in his opening remarks that he is working to keep tuition at its current level for next school year. He went on to describe planned courtyard and other facility improvements, urged them to check into part-time job opportunities at the school to help with expenses, and outlined ongoing efforts to improve graduates’ marketability by making sure they are “practice ready” when they leave the Law Center.

The highest priorities of the school are to give each student a good legal education and the skills and training needed to get a job, Alderman said.  In addition to learning to “think like a lawyer,” the dean said the school is doing a lot to prime students for a successful career, citing the hands-on clinics, practical lawyering skills, advocacy training, and even a storytelling course.

“Career planning is probably even more important than ever,” he said, not just for that first job, but long-term. Talk to counselors about what you are passionate about and what you want to be doing years from now, he advised.

“I’m excited about what’s going on here,” he told the students, adding that his door is always open.

In response to student questions, Alderman:

  • Noted the Law Center is considering the possibility of school loans, different types of scholarships and “forgivable loans” for students who go into public interest law. The school currently offers about $4 million in scholarships, he said.
  • Explained the search for a new dean is ongoing and assured students they will play a role in narrowing the list of finalists.
  • Reiterated his long-held position that while school rankings are nice, and it is preferable to go up, they are not the end-all barometer of a school’s quality or value to students and graduates.
  • Assured students that their evaluations of professors are taken seriously and often used in determining raises, awarding chairs, and overall job performance reviews. Remedial training and advice from peers is occasionally offered to improve classroom performance, he said. Constructive criticism means more than sarcasm or ridicule, he added, and sometimes the problem is something minor that can be readily corrected.  After 41 years in the classroom, Alderman said, “I’m a better teacher today because of evaluations.”

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