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Valpo Law reaches agreement to transfer to Tennessee

October 12, 2018

Valparaiso University Law School is one step closer to leaving Indiana.

The governing boards for Middle Tennessee State University and Valparaiso University have both endorsed the transfer of the 139-year-old law school from northwest Indiana to the Murfreesboro campus, according to an Oct. 10 press release from MTSU.

Now the proposal goes to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for consideration.

“I’m confident this agreement will continue the great legacy of Valparaiso University Law School and serve an area of the country without an accredited, public law school,” said Frederick Kraegel, chair of the Valparaiso University Board of Directors.

The Education Collaboration Agreement outlined the transfer and also made recommendations that MTSU create a College of Law and establish a juris doctor degree.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said the agreement sets out the conditions under which the transfer of the law school will occur.

 “It makes clear that we are not purchasing the law school or its assets although we will reimburse Valparaiso for some expenses that it will incur on our behalf during the transfer period,” McPhee said. “It also makes clear that the transfer is contingent upon receiving approval from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the acquiescence of the American Bar Association to the transfer of assets and change of control of the law school to MTSU.”

The agreement comes about 11 months after Valparaiso University announced in November 2017 it was suspending admissions to the law school and looking for an alternative to keeping the institution open. According to the press release, MTSU began discussions with Valpo that same month.

“…I want to make clear that we have gone to great lengths to assure that this opportunity is in the best interest of MTSU, the city of Murfreesboro and the citizens of Middle Tennessee,” McPhee said. “This has been a very deliberate undertaking and one that I feel confident is both academically and fiscally sound.”

If the transfer goes through, Valpo will be the second law school that Indiana has lost since Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne ceased operations in June 2017.

The state will be left with three law schools – Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law and Notre Dame Law School – which would be equal to the number of law schools in Kentucky but dwarfed by the nine law schools each in Illinois and Ohio. Michigan is home to six law schools.

Valparaiso University president Mark Heckler praised the teams from his school and MTSU who worked to prepare the proposal.

“I am truly grateful for their work along with the continued dedication of the Valparaiso Law School faculty and staff, who, we hope, will have the opportunity to continue their good work together,” Heckler said. “Throughout this arduous process, our goal has remained clear – to ensure the proud legacy, values and core ethos of Valparaiso University Law School remain in place for future generations.”

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