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UB Law to get more money from university

The University of Baltimore has pledged to increase its law school’s budget by $5 million over the next five years, following a study of the financial relationships between several other law schools and their universities.

Robert L. Bogomolny

UB looked at the financial data of nine other universities with law schools and determined that its law school needed more money, university President Robert L. Bogomolny said Wednesday.

The money would come from the university’s central fund, tuition, a small increase in the number of new students the university admits and from increased fundraising, Bogomolny said.

Under the budget commitment presented to law school faculty Wednesday, Bogomolny said the university would also keep future law school tuition increases “as small as possible.” Other colleges, schools and administrative units within UB will not see reductions to their operating budgets as a result of the changes to the law school budget.

In addition, the university said it is committed to its “implementing a multiyear faculty hiring plan,” as well as investing in the other colleges and schools within the university.

The committee that drafted Wednesday’s budget agreement was led by Michael Meyerson, a law school professor, and was assisted by law student representative Paul Snyder. In an email to fellow students, Student Bar Association President Julius Blattner praised the committee’s work.

“We are thrilled to have a fair financial agreement in place,” Blattner said.

Meyerson said the university sought financial data from 32 law schools, and eventually received data from nine, but comparing them proved difficult because each school used different factors in its formula.

Instead of trying to figure out where UB ranked among the schools in terms of finances, Meyerson said the committee looked at the core expenses versus the revenue and determined that the law school could use some more money.

“I think this is an extraordinarily powerful deal that will strengthen the law school. … I think it will also allow the university to grow and be strong,” he said.

The study began after an accreditation committee of the American Bar Association asked for more details of the financial relationship between the university and the law school in July.

The financial issues between the law school and the university became apparent after Dean Phillip J. Closius resigned, citing longstanding differences with Bogomolny over the amount of law school revenue the university keeps for itself.

Following Closius’ resignation, he submitted a proposal for how the university and the law school could resolve their financial issues, at the request of interim Dean F. Michael Higginbotham.

While the university’s commitment does not mirror Closius’ proposal, he said he’s pleased with the results.

“I’m glad that the university recognized the problem and took steps to remedy it,” he said. “It doesn’t remedy the entire problem, but no one thought that was really possible, given the economic realities.”

Closius’ proposal called for an investment into the law school of $1.6 million a year over three years, allowing the law school to keep its tuition increases low. He also suggested that the law school, not the university, make recommendations about tuition increases to the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents.

Closius and Bogomolny disagreed publicly about the amount of revenue generated by the law school the university keeps. In his resignation letter sent to the law school community, Closius said the university keeps about 45 percent of the revenue.

Bogomolny responded in an email that 42 percent of the law school’s revenue was retained by the university in fiscal 2010, as the ABA report stated. But Bogomolny said the university ultimately kept only 13.7 percent after “allocating costs related to the law school’s regular operation.”

Those costs — including human resources, lighting and technology — are routinely absorbed centrally, he wrote. The law school’s operating costs for fiscal 2010 were slightly less than $10 million, according to Bogomolny, while the law school’s budget was closer to $19 million, according to the ABA report.

The ABA report praised the law school in general but noted, and shared, the law school’s concern about how much money it was contributing to the university with “no clear rationale expressed” for how much the university took.

The ABA Committee asked Bogomolny and Closius to submit a report by March with a more detailed explanation for the law school’s contributions to the university.

According to Bogomolny, the law school is entering a “transformative period,” with new leadership in place and a new law school building coming on line in 2013. He said the funding commitment to the law school will inform budget discussions with the university’s other schools and colleges.