Photograph: Students in a classroom.

April 21, 2020 Update From Dean Pratt

Dear Students,

I want to thank you for your patience and cooperation during this challenging time. Because of your resilience, I am proud to say that we have not had a single student withdraw from law school due to the pandemic. I want to remind you that your law school administration and faculty are here for you if you need us, so please do not hesitate to reach out if you are struggling with an issue and you think we might be able to help.

Financial Assistance: Thanks to the generosity of AccessLex, we received a $25,000 grant to provide emergency financial assistance to students who need help due to the COVID-19 crisis. The total aid to each student cannot exceed a maximum amount of $599, and must be given directly to creditors, such as landlords or utility companies. The student must be in good academic standing (cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above). Unlike the law school emergency loan program, students in their final semester are eligible to apply, and the aid does not have to be repaid. So if you need assistance, please apply at: http://www.wualumni.org/lawichabodsmovingforward.

Commencement: We are getting inquiries from 3Ls about what the university’s plans are for commencement. The VPAA, Dr. Mazachek, has formed a task force to make a recommendation on how and when the university will proceed with commencement for May 2020 graduates, so I expect an announcement on that soon. We did offer to have the law school conduct a virtual commencement for our graduates, but we were informed that we could not conduct a commencement ceremony of any kind independent of the university. As a result, we plan to participate in the university commencement and are awaiting an announcement for when that will occur. However, our faculty and staff could not let May 2020 pass without some recognition of the accomplishments of our graduates so they started working on a video tribute that will be a collective gift from all of us to the May 2020 graduating class. This video tribute will not replace an official commencement ceremony hosted by the university.

Scholarships for Rising 2Ls and Rising 3Ls: Like most universities, Washburn University is confronting significant financial challenges due to COVID-19. We incurred unexpected expenses this semester in the pivot to distance education and remote work for employees, and it is a near certainty that Washburn will experience a fiscal shortfall in its three primary sources of revenue: tuition, sales tax, and state support. Consequently, at this time, the law school does not have the funds to administer the scholarship program for rising second and third year students who do not presently have a scholarship. Nonetheless, we are working to raise funds from our alumni and friends for this purpose, and whatever funds we raise will be awarded to students. We expect to invite students without a scholarship to apply for scholarship funding in June and award scholarships for next academic year in July.

Final Exams: As we near the time for final exams, it is my hope that the modified exam procedures adopted by the faculty and the law school administration are helping to ease everyone’s anxiety. I think that the modified procedures provide the most equitable approach to exams given the circumstances that we are confronting right now. If you are a student with an accommodation and you have a concern that the final exam procedures are inadequate to meet your needs, please do not hesitate to reach out to Associate Dean Mastrosimone at: joseph.mastrosimone@washburn.edu because we want to be sure that we meet the needs of all students.

Student Feedback: Finally, you should have received an email inviting you to complete the course evaluation for each course that you are taking this semester. I ask that you take a few minutes to complete this evaluation of teaching effectiveness. In this semester, more than ever, it is vital that we have your feedback so that we can work to improve our effectiveness with distance education, so I thank you in advance for providing that valuable input. [NOTE: the email will be from: student-perceptions@washburn.edu and have the subject line: Student Perception Surveys Started Today!]

I will share updates as more information becomes available. Best wishes for a smooth conclusion to the semester,

Dean Pratt