Aug. 19, 2008
MOSCOW, Idaho – When a consulting group assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the University of Idaho College of Law in 1999, it found the lowest percentage of women in any law school in the country and a remarkably monochrome student body, with only about four percent racial and ethnic minorities.
By 2007, the most recent count, the representation of women in the College of Law’s incoming classes had climbed to more than 49 percent, exceeding the average for all American Bar Association-accredited schools, which was 46 percent in 2006, the most recent year reported.
The representation of minorities also has grown exponentially. Minority representation in incoming students reached 12 percent in 2005, 17 percent in 2006 and more than 19 percent in 2007. The average for all ABA-accredited schools was 22 percent in 2006.
During this period of growing ethnic and gender diversity, Idaho residents have continued to be strongly represented among incoming students, on average, comprising about 60 percent of incoming students, and spiking at more than 64 percent in 2007.
“Contrary to popular opinion in some quarters, advances in diversity do not diminish a commitment to quality; they reinforce it,” Dean Don Burnett wrote in an article appearing in the Idaho State Bar publication, “The Advocate,” last February. During this period of growth in diversity, he reports, LSAT scores for all Idaho law students have increased.
“Success breeds success,” he explained. “An institution making advances in diversity and excellence attracts attention from a broader array of potential students.
Gender diversity among faculty also has grown significantly since the 1999 report. Women holding tenure or tenure-track positions has increased from four to six, and fully half of those holding instructor positions in the college are women.
Representation of ethnic and racial minorities also has grown among faculty and staff. Two members of the teaching faculty and a member of the law library faculty are ethnic or racial minorities, four women and one minority member, all holding juris doctor degrees, also serve as full-time professional staff.
“Students of the University of Idaho College of Law have always been welcomed into a distinctly collegial community,” Burnett said. “Today, this collegiality embraces diversity in all its forms, including a wide-open appreciation for multiple perspectives and backgrounds. Idahoans can be proud that their law school links excellence with diversity, providing a complete education and genuine opportunity for all.”
For the full text of Burnett’s article, “Much Has Changed: Diversity and Opportunity at the University of Idaho College of Law