To: Dean Robert ClarkFrom: Members of CatalystSubject: Open Letter to Request Sharing of Budget Data with StudentsDate: February 6, 2001
Dear Dean Clark:
We are writing you to request that you share with the student body information relating to the Law School’s budget. We applaud your recent release of the Strategic Plan and the costs associated with each of the Plan’s proposals and hope that you will continue this open communication by releasing information relating to the school’s financial priorities as reflected in its budget. Students have a vital interest in this information: we spend $35,000 a year to study here and feel that we should at least know how the money is being used. Moreover, we believe that a healthy relationship between students and administration relies on trust and openness on the part of the administration. On our part, we are much more likely to trust and cooperate with the administration’s decisions when we have enough information to determine their reasonableness.
We are not asking for information that is very sensitive or private. We realize that as a non-profit institution the Law School already makes certain disclosures, and we simply ask that students not be left out on the information exchange. Because many of the numbers are difficult to understand without an appropriate background, however, it would be especially helpful if there were a memo highlighting the key portions of the budget and the directions in which it is changing. We would like to see this budget memo to the students become an annual tradition.
As you know, such sharing of budget information and financial priorities was done on a regular basis by Dean Vorenberg. Our current request does not ask for anything more than what Dean Vorenberg did in his annual memos to the students. A copy of Dean Vorenberg’s last annual memo (from 1989) is attached to this letter. We are not asking that you copy its format or style, but we are using it as a reference point for the type of substantive information we would like the school to release.
Specifically, we would like to see how much is being spent on (1) career advising and OPIA, (2) out of class faculty/student interaction, and (3) other student services. In addition, an explanation of the sources of funding for various student programs such as LIPP would be extremely helpful. For instance, does money donated to LIPP decrease the amount LIPP receives from other sources? What portion of the discretionary fund goes to LIPP? It would also be very useful to see how different numbers have changed from past years, and how they are projected to change in the future.
We urge you to continue the tradition of Dean Vorenberg and share with the students the financial status and priorities of the law school. We hope that this information will serve to stimulate a dialogue between students, faculty and administration that is vital to the future health of this law school. Although we are disappointed that the Strategic Plan did not contain proposals dealing with administrative transparency and school governance, we sincerely hope that the end of Strategic Planning does not signal an end to the spirit of openness and experimentation of the past two years.
We would appreciate a response to our request within the next two weeks. We know your schedule is extremely busy and are grateful for the time you devote to this matter.