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Summary of Dean’s Town Hall

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September 23, 2013

Today Dean Moran hosted her first Town Hall of the year to update the student body on what the Faculty has been working on and to solicit feedback from students on these various updates. The Dean focused on four topics: the transition space, career development, experiential learning, and the 1L curriculum.

Building Transition

The Faculty has updated a few of the classrooms to improve access to power and comfort, but much work is yet to be done. More classrooms will be updated over the winter break and over the summer. A student asked if immediate efforts could be undertaken to improve some of the furniture in the classrooms with benches and/or foldout desks. The Dean is receptive to continuing to monitor classrooms to look for ways to improve them.

A Building Transition Working Group has been struck; students are encouraged to continue bringing questions and concerns forward so we may continue settling into the transition space.

Career Development

A new Career Development Office (CDO) Student Advisory Committee has been struck to ensure the CDO is responsive to student needs. If any students are interested in taking part, the Committee meets roughly once a month at lunch. The next meeting is Wednesday, September 25 in Falconer.

Experiential Learning

A few new clinics have been added to the roster for this year: a business innovation clinic, an Aboriginal Law clinic and a clinic concerning women, violence and the law. The Faculty is always looking for ways to increase experiential learning for law students.

The focus of this year’s Clinical Education Dean’s Committee (which is staffed by SLS representatives and professors) will be to develop an overarching strategy for experiential learning at the law school.  The Dean is particularly interested in finding new ways for students to support professors in their work (for example, the Dean would like to involve students somehow in her new role as leader of the review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act).

A student asked whether the Faculty would support the Artists’ Legal Advice Service (ALAS) in light of the fact that the clinic’s Legal Aid funding has been withdrawn. Assistant Dean Archbold said that she has met with the leaders of the clinic and the issue is on her radar. She wants to ensure that if the clinic has to fold, there will be comparable experiences for students in the future.

1L Curriculum Review

The Dean is very keen to review the delivery of the 1L program to find ways to decrease student stress and make the year better. The Standing Curriculum Dean’s Committee (which is staffed by SLS representatives and professors) will be tasked with auditing the 1L program at a high level. A high degree of student consultation will be integral to this process. A student asked if making Administrative Law a full year course (this was attempted last year) is on the table. The Dean said that there is no specific plan to make this happen – the Committee will simply be asked to think of different ways to make the 1L year better (moving to a semesterized system, for example).

Some students brought forward questions regarding the degree of coordination between professors who teach in the 1L year. For example, these students felt as though there could be a greater degree of standardization in terms of what is being covered in each 1L course so that all 1Ls emerge from the year with a similar knowledge base.

The Dean will be hosting a second Town Hall on October 16 at lunch focusing on financial aid, tuition and accessibility.

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