By Gina Passarella
Of the Legal Staff
Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law is dropping Earle Mack from its name in an effort to get donations from other benefactors to help the school’s fundraising efforts, the university said.
“We write to inform you that ambassador Earle Mack has graciously stepped aside as naming benefactor of Drexel’s law school,” university President John A. Fry and board of trustees chairman Richard A. Greenawalt said in a joint letter to the Drexel community. “This decision will clear the way for us to seek additional benefactors to further advance the school in what has become a very challenging legal education climate.”
Until a new benefactor is named, the law school will be known as the Drexel University School of Law.
Fry and Greenawalt said Mack helped establish the first law school to be founded by a major research university in more than 30 years when the school opened in 2006. In the six years since Mack made his donation, the school achieved full accreditation.
“That period of rapid growth, however, coincided with the extended global financial crisis and the related downturn in the number of applicants to American law schools,” the two said in the letter. “We are confident that our school, with its unique experiential focus and its innovative faculty and leadership, will continue to thrive in this new environment. The Earle I. Mack Foundation and Drexel jointly concluded that this will require an economic foundation beyond what was established by his gift and the university’s matching funds. The termination of the naming agreement frees Drexel to build that foundation.”
The law school declined to comment beyond the letter.
The law school made a decision in 2010 not to grow its class size over the ensuing five or so years in the face of declining law school applicants and a shrinking job market. As of 2013, the school had 411 full-time students, according to Legal sibling publication PaLaw 2013 magazine. While Duquesne University School of Law and Widener University School of Law’s Harrisburg campus have smaller law school class sizes, the bulk of area schools are in the range of 500 to 700 full-time students, according to the magazine.
In April, Drexel’s law school announced a two-year J.D. program set to start in the summer of 2014. The "Fast Forward" program is a two-year J.D. that costs the same and requires the same amount of credits as its three-year program. The benefit, the school says, is that those in the accelerated program get to join the workforce a year sooner and live off of student loans one less year.
Gina Passarella can be reached at email@example.com or 215-557-2494. Follow her on Twitter @gpassarellaTLI.