Archives for the month of: June, 2008

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.

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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.

Monday began with checking e-mail and returning phone calls. After that I took a last minute walk around the grounds of the hotel to say goodbye to St. Thomas, enjoy the wonderful breezes and the beautiful views. That was followed by a breakfast with Hope, Barbara and Utaam. It was a lovely breakfast. I ordered a shrimp and avocado omelet with a little side dish of fruit. Afterwards, I had time to sit directly in front of the water and to reflect on the trip. I wanted to send greetings to folks after returning to Fayetteville and I jottedleaving down the details of my conversations so that I could personalize my notes. Erin and Steve Moore, who I’ve mentioned before, were snorkeling right off the beach and Steve had seen a manta ray, a barracuda and a lemon shark. The three of us talked about how wonderful ABA events are in terms of developing friendships and how much those friendships mean over the years. It was one of those great quiet, peaceful moments with good friends.

We realized it was getting close to time to depart, so we walked back to the Begonia building, and Steve arranged for the bellman to come and get us at noon. Our van to the airport left at 12:15 p.m. We checked out, then hopped in the van and got to the airport where it was time to hurry up and wait. In St. Thomas, you are directed to get to the airport no later than 2 hours before your flight and once you do and get through security, you wait. Steve and I ended up sitting next to each other on the plane again to Miami which is a 2 hours and 10-15 minutes flight. I hadn’t realized that St. Thomas was so far South.

When we landed in Miami, I had a quick connection to make so I ran to catch my flight to Dallas, but it turned out it was delayed. I made some phone calls and did a little bit more catching up and by then we took off for a 2½ hour flight to Dallas. It was uneventful except for turbulence. There was a storm in Miami and we caught a little bit of that on the way out. In fact, the pilot had to change routes to avoid the worst of the storm which delayed our flight arrival so that once we landed in Dallas I had to run again to the XNA flight which was also delayed. There were several service men and women on that flight. I always feel worried about them and say a little prayer for their safety every time I see them. When the flight attendants came through I offered to buy them some drinks (they were having beer and wine), but they were given complimentary drinks. It’s been frustrating to me watching our service men and women go off to the various places to be on the battle front when there’s nothing I can do about it. So, to counter that frustration I’ve adopted a policy that if I’m in an airport restaurant and I see a service person dining, I will ask my server to go over and pick up their tab which I then anonymously pay. I ask my server to tell their server that someone in the restaurant just wants to say thanks for their service. It’s a little thing, but it just makes me feel better and it lets them know that there are many of us who care about them. Anyway, I digress.

So, I was on the plane with the returning servicemen and women returning and we arrived pretty late. I drove from the airport to the law school, checked the mail, signed some correspondence that needed my signature, checked e-mail, and picked up my next travel itinerary so wonderfully prepared by my assistant, Terri Yeakley, without whom I don’t know what I’d do. There are many times that I’m so busy that I really, truly do not know where I’m going. I don’t mean in terms of the city, but I mean the hotel and my agenda. I just count on Terri to get me where I need to be. I open up the folder she has prepared and there it is, such and such hotel, this and that meeting on these days, call this person, it’s wonderful. So, thanks very much, Terri! I could not do what I do without your very capable and professional assistance.

Sunday began with the Council meeting at 9:00 a.m. There were several itemAlumnis of Council business yet to be discussed that morning. They included a report from the Pro Bono Committee, a report on the Trial Advocacy Moot Court Competition, the Dispute Resolution Section Liaison report, a report on our Mid-Winter Meetings, a request to look at a proposed ethics rule and also a discussion around recent ALI work on the Restatement of Employment Law.

I left the meeting before the last two reports because I was going to see Rhonda Williams-Henry. For those of you who don’t know her or haven’t met her, she is an alumna who graduated about six years ago. She and her husband Michael who is a Ph.D. physicist and their two daughters live on St. Croix. I figured since I was so close, I might as well take the time to go see her. I booked a flight on the seaplane which is very interesting. It is actually what it sounds like – a sea plane that takes off and lands on the water. The name of the airline is Sea Borne and all is does is run flights between St. Croix and St. Thomas and St. Thomas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

SiteMy flight was booked for 1:00 p.m. but I had to be there 45 minutes early, so I arrived at about noon and not long afterwards we got in the seaplane and took off. It was an 18-minute flight for 40 miles on a prop plane. There were 15 seats and I took pictures in the plane and I found out I wasn’t supposed to have my purse. But, at least I got some good pictures of the inside of the plane. We landed in St. Croix, the city of Christiansted, of course right on the water. Rhonda and her daughters met me and we walked around the boardwalk and to a historic fort. Then we grabbed a quick lunch because she wanted to have time to make sure I got a feel for the island of St. Croix.

St. Croix is sort of the sleepy cousin to St. Thomas. It’s much more laid back and quiet, although geographically it’s bigger than St. Thomas. Rhonda told me that it’s about 85 square miles. After lunch we drove toRefinery her house and picked up her husband Michael and took off all around the island to see the various sights. We drove all the way up to Frederiksted. We went past the refinery that used to be the Hess Refinery and is now the Hovensa Refinery. According to Michael and Rhonda, it is the largest refinery in the Western Hemisphere. It was really huge! It employs a number of the folks on St. Croix. Many other people work in the government and of course in the tourism business. St. Croix is famous for it’s diving and snorkelinAlumnig, but the hotels on the island of St. Croix are much smaller than those on St. Thomas. If you’re looking for a quieter alternative to St. Thomas, try St. Croix.

We had a very brief visit because my flight landed there at 1:30 p.m. and my return flight was at 5:15 p.m. The very last flight at 6:00 p.m. was full, so I had to catch the 5:15 p.m. (and had to get back there 45 minutes early). Michael told me I didn’t have to be there so early and in fact that was true. But, still it was a whirlwind. I saw many parts of the island and I’m very grateful to them for taking the time out of their Sunday to share the afternoon with me. It was great to see them and know they are doing well. Rhonda is Herveworking in the U.S. Attorney’s Office on the island and Michael is a math and science tutor. Anyway, no alumna is too far. It was a pleasure. Thanks for lunch and for the visit.

I flew back on the seaplane to St. Thomas where I met Chris Hexter and his wife Nancy and Peter Janis and his wife Nancy. We ate dinner at Hervé on Government Hill in St. Thomas. The five of us shared a fantastic meal with Fooda beautiful view of the ocean and the lights of St. Thomas. Chris’ wife had the special venison coated in winter spice and served in a grand marnier sauce, and he ordered the rabbit loin with tomato, mushroom, rosemary and white wine. My meal was lobster scallops and shrimp St. Jacques in a lightly seasoned beurre blanc with shallots, chives, white peppercorns and sweet vermouth. Peter Janis ordered the yellowtail snapper coated with creole spice, topped with mango salsa. His wife Nancy’s meal was the sea bass served with a mango dill beurre blanc.