FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Indiana Tech announced Monday it will close its law school less than a year after it was awarded provisional accreditation.
According to a release from the university, the Indiana Tech Board of Trustees, in line with a recommendation from the university’s administration, voted unanimously to close Indiana Tech Law School at the conclusion of the 2016-17 academic year. The school cited declining enrollment and “a loss of nearly $20 million” in its decision.
Indiana Tech Law School currently has a total of 71 students enrolled. It graduated its first class in May.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for all involved,” said Indiana Tech President Dr. Arthur Snyder. “Over the course of time it has become apparent that the significant decline in law school applicants nationwide represents a long term shift in the legal education field, not a short term one. Specific to Indiana Tech, the assessment of the Board and our senior leadership team is that for the foreseeable future the law school will not be able to attract students in sufficient numbers for the school to remain viable.”
The law school will close June 30, 2017.
Law students will have the option to complete the year with the law school. The school said that students in their third and final year will have the ability to graduate from the law school in May. First and second year students will have the option to transfer to other law schools at the start of the January 2017 semester, or to complete the year at Indiana Tech Law School and then transfer for the start of the fall 2017 semester.
The release said law school staff will work with each student on an individual basis to help with the transfer and degree completion process.
“Our first concern is for the law school students,” said Synder. “We will be working hard on behalf of each of them to ensure that the process for transferring, for continuing their legal education, and ultimately earning their law degree takes place with as little disruption as possible.
“Our law school faculty and staff have made commendable efforts in serving our students. Despite their many positive achievements, we have not seen enough of a corresponding increase in demand by prospective students to enable the school to continue in operation.”
Indiana Tech Law School, opened in 2013, was denied a provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association in June 2015. In its follow-up attempt in March, the school earned a provisional accreditation from the ABA.
To date, Indiana Tech has incurred a loss of nearly $20 million in operating the law school. With new enrollments projected to be in the range of 30-50 per year for the foreseeable future, this deficit was expected to continue growing, rather than shrinking, placing the law school on an unsustainable path.