WMU trustees approve Cooley Law affiliation

A proposed affiliation between Western Michigan University and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is a step closer to reality after the WMU Board of Trustees voiced its approval for the move and authorized the University’s administration to proceed with the initiative.

By voice vote at its April 18 meeting, the board approved a resolution authorizing development of an agreement for the University to affiliate with Cooley.

The board also authorized WMU President John M. Dunn to “take all actions necessary to implement the establishment of this agreement,” including consultation with the appropriate accrediting bodies.

The resolution calls for the president to periodically advise trustees of the status of the agreement. 

The board resolution noted that Cooley would remain an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) entity but would become known as the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
The resolution passed by the WMU trustees is similar to one that Cooley’s board of directors has already approved.

“I’m very pleased with the action of our board, which was taken after receiving extremely positive response to the affiliation idea both on our campus and in the community at large,” Dunn said following the meeting. “This is consistent with what all of our stakeholders embrace, the idea of working together in a way that will benefit both entities.”

The two schools announced April 2 that a formal affiliation had been part of an informal three-year discussion by Dunn and Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc.

During recent months, the discussions broadened to examine the impact an affiliation would have on stakeholders, accreditation, financial responsibilities and growth potential.

The initiative builds on a long and successful relationship between the two schools that includes a number of existing graduate dual-degree programs and shared physical facilities for a time in the Grand Rapids area.

Since announcing the possibility of an affiliation, a number of additional synergies have been discussed.

Among them are the possibility of a 3+3 program allowing students to complete their bachelor’s and law degrees in just six years; interdisciplinary teaching and research opportunities for faculty; and additional joint course offerings in areas that might focus on the legal environments for business, education, health care or intellectual property.