After returning from St. Thomas there was little time to rest. The flight came in late at about 10:30 p.m., then it was time to dash ovUMKCer to the law school and pick up the materials for the trip to Kansas City. I was up bright and early and left at 7:00 a.m. for Kansas City. I took Mom with me because she had not ever been to Kansas City, nor had the opportunity to visit the Negro League / Jazz Museum. She was able to do that during the day as I met with the Midwestern law deans. The drive up was a good one as the weather was perfect.

The meeting began with lunch at noon sponsored by the Law School Admission Council during which we all gathered and visited. The meal was a catered barbeque with sliced barbeque beef and sliced turkey, as well as baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw. There were rolls, but none of the deans ate the bread because of course we tend to have too many meals anyway.

The meeting was convened by Steve Willborn, the Dean of Nebraska Law School, at the request of Dan Bernstine, the President of the Law School Admission Council. It was scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m., but since we were all there, we started at 1:00 p.m. The deans who attended were myself, Eric Chiappinelli from Creighton, Gail Agrawal from Kansas, Larry Dessem from Missouri-Columbia, Ellen Suni was our host dean from the law school at UMKC, Larry Hellman from Oklahoma City Law School, Barry Vickery from South Dakota, Peter Alexander from Southern Illinois, Kent Syverud from Washington University, and Tom Romig from Washburn University.

Dan Bernstine began by giving an overview of what the admissions data in terms of the number of applicants, the number of those who had registered and how many had taken the LSAT. It’s very interesting. (I will try to get the charts posted) The charts show where law school applicants are coming from, and where in the country law school applications are going to. He also gave us charts about demographic data of applicants nationally, in terms of gender and ethnicity. There was a lot of discussion around these issues by the deans. Dan also updated us on the Law School Admission Council’s initiatives in terms of globalization of the LSAT and LSAC’s services, for example, psychometricians aiding different countries in the development of their own law school entrance exam. There are a number of countries that you might be surprised to know are either interested in the LSAT itself or the services of LSAC. Dan also shared with us the work and structure of the LSAC volunteer groups and committees. I’ve shared that with you before, so I won’t belabor that point. Then he talked about the ways in which LSAC could be helpful to deans and law schools, for example the fact that there are a lot of professional development opportunities that is training (i.e., admissions professionals). Also, the LSAC is responsible for the growth of the training opportunities and programming around academic support programs. At that point Kent Syverud and I chimed in about the educational programming around the annual meeting and how valuable that can be to deans having both been very active with LSAC.

After that we took a break. The next topic on the agenda was the unique challenges and opportunities of Midwestern law schools and rather than share with you everything that we discussed, I took away from that discussion the fact that although we’re all very different schools (private and wealthy, public and not so wealthy, spread all over geographically) many of the challenges are the same. It was a very helpful conversation during which the group shared ideas. A dean would throw out a question like “has anybody ever faced this?” or “what are you all doing about that?” and then the other deans would share. I took a number of pages of notes during that session. Thanks very much to Larry Dessem, the Dean of UM-Columbia, for chairing that session.


We had another little break and then we went back to a very familiar topic that’s been blogged extensively here before – curricular change in light of Carnegie and Best Practices. We talked about changes schools are making to their curriculum in light of Best Practices, as well as things that deans felt weren’t really working very well. That was also a very useful conversation and again it generated (for me at least) quite a few notes. Dean Steve Willborn chaired that session. He introduced the topic and really did more listening than talking, but did chime in to share his experiences and ideas at Nebraska. Not too long facility2afterwards, we adjourned, and were given a tour of the law school by Dean Suni. It had been a wonderful gathering, and in fact all of the deans said that this was something that we should do annually. I certainly would be happy to host my colleagues at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, to show them the beauty of our law school, the warmth of the people and the beauty of Fayetteville itself. Maybe we’ll be hosting the Midwestern deans at Arkansas next year and I certainly would look forward to that.

We had dinner at a restaurant called the Grand Street Café. The Grand Street Café is found on Grand Street notmomdinner too far from the Raphael Hotel, which was our hotel. It is a lovely hotel. I would highly recommend it for anyone going to Kansas City. Not only are the rooms spacious and beautiful, but it’s a very easy walk to shopping, restaurants, and entertainment. When we arrived at the Grand Street Café we mixed and mingled a little bit and then the appetizers began to arrive. They were very crispy vegetarian egg rolls and pizza bread with fresh tomato and cilantro. My mom had a caesar salad, which she enjoyed very much and I had a dinnerguestsspinach salad which was delicious. My entree was the pan roasted pekin duck breast with sweet corn soufflé, butter braised beans, with grilled white peach ginger butter. Mom had the swordfish with a rice accompaniment. Dean Eric Chiappinelli sat next to me and he had the lamb. Everyone’s meal was delicious and there were several options around the table.

But I must highlight my mom’s and Peter Alexander’s dessert. Peter had a most delicious crab and avocado appetizer, but anyway, I digress, back to dessert. There was something called a chocolate Foodsampler that had a mini chocolate soufflé, a three tiered chocolate mousse, chocolate candy bars, little tiny chocolate brownies, and chocolate creme brulee. Mom and Peter had that and it was death by chocolate for sure (and this was coming from 2 chocoholics!). I had a chocolate soufflé. Eric had a coconut and pineapple spice cake. He said it tasted like carrot cake without the carrots. Some of the other dessert choices were a chocolate lava cake and an apple strudel. Everyone fully enjoyed their meals, there was great fellowship and a really warm gathering of deans. It was then time to head back to the hotel and pack up to return to Fayetteville on Wednesday.