Arizona Summit Law School and Bethune-Cookman University Announce Affiliation Agreement

Phoenix, Arizona, UNITED STATES

PHOENIX, March 10, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Arizona Summit Law School (Summit) and Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU), a premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) institution, announced the signing of an affiliation agreement.  The affiliation would establish an HBCU presence beyond the traditional geographical boundaries of such institutions. This agreement, subject to regulatory approvals, will enable both schools to pursue their shared objectives of inclusive excellence in professional education and diversifying the nation’s least diverse white collar profession.

B-CU President Edison O. Jackson said “This agreement is a significant step toward these goals.  Together, we aim to be a leading force in disrupting a legacy of exclusion that has persisted into the 21st century.  President Jackson further observed that “Summit has been recognized as the number one law school for diversity, an achievement that reflects upon its seriousness of purpose and commitment to mission.”

Summit President Donald Lively noted that “BCU’s presence in the west is a landmark moment in higher education.  B-CU not only is redefining the HBCU model but positioning itself to be a major force and role model in higher education.”  President Lively also stated that the affiliation contemplates a smaller school that “establishes B-CU as a national presence, enhances our recognizability and stature, strengthens student outcomes, and helps make a legal education more affordable."
B-CU enters a state where 40 percent of the general population, but only 8 percent of the legal profession are minorities.  Experts on the future of legal education maintain that leadership in legal education is on the verge of changing.  On this point, President Jackson said “Leadership in legal education should be judged on the basis of how well a law school prepares students for a rapidly changing profession and how well it responds to society’s legacy issues, accounts for rapidly changing demographics, and adapts to new and emerging realities.”  President Lively noted that B-CU possesses many of these leadership attributes, insofar as it “has established itself as a leader in innovation that is not only redefining the HBCU model but transforming itself into a major force and role model in higher education generally.”

The affiliation will enable Summit to strengthen its brand and heighten understanding of the school and appreciation of its mission. Summit has won numerous awards for diversity and innovation and possesses one of the nation’s lowest student loan default rates.

The affiliation builds upon a relationship that already provides for early admission of B-CU students to Summit, a Pre-Law Institute, and plans a consortium of HBCUs committed to goals of diversification and inclusivity.  The schools also are exploring international programs and initiatives that will focus upon underdeveloped and developing nations in areas of the world where American law schools have not established a presence.

The affiliation will result in a nationally recognized law school that is smaller in size but characterized by consistently strong student outcomes and bar examination performance, establish market leadership in innovation and diversity, and the potential to offer a quality legal education at lower cost.

An affiliation is not without precedent in legal education.  Several independent law schools have traveled this path as a means of improving their brand, achieving the financial advantages and synergies of a university relationship, and (in some instances) having it be a precursor to acquisition. 




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