Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Robert Vischer, the St. Thomas School of Law’s own candidate for the law school’s dean position, presented his platform and future intentions for the school, Thursday, Sept. 13.
In front of a crowd of about 40 students and professors, Vischer highlighted two themes: the curriculum’s dependence on the school’s mission and balancing student debts.
Opening with his admiration for Pope John Paul II, Vischer explained how he sees the school’s solid Catholic foundation as an anchor in today’s tense law school scene.
Vischer serves as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. He has been voted Professor of the Year by graduating classes twice within the past four years.
“A lot of law schools are desperately trying to find some sort of identity to grasp onto,” Vischer said. “At St. Thomas, the strongest thing we have going for us is that we know who we are.”
As part of a Catholic school, Vischer said he believes students should learn the material to pass the bar exam, but at the same time, they should be challenged morally and open discussions that they might not have to the opportunity to explore once they enter the field.
Vischer also stressed the importance of keeping tuition on par in relation to starting salaries.
“I would love for St. Thomas to be more highly ranked, but rankings are not the magic bullet,” Vischer said. “It does not matter how innovative our curriculum, how welcoming our community or how revolutionary our admission is. If it’s not affordable for students, we have a serious problem.”
Students attending the presentation were generally pleased with Vischer’s comments.
Third-year law student Derek Hansen liked Vischer’s commitment to the student debt crisis and said he might have a competitive advantage for the position.
“He talked a lot about the student-debt crisis and how he would rectify that,” Hansen said. “He wants to seek outside donors, and I really appreciate that.”
Third-year law student Leslie Strobel said that she sees Vischer as a good representation of the school and that his points complement a student’s decision to attend a Catholic law school.
“I would like the other two candidates to keep the mission in mind. Even though national rankings are important, that’s the reason students ultimately choose to come to St. Thomas,” Strobel said.
Vischer currently teaches six courses on the Minneapolis campus and serves as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. He has been voted Professor of the Year by graduating classes twice within the past four years. In 2007, he received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teaching.
TommieMedia will be covering all candidates’ public speeches equally and fairly during the election period.
Anastasia Straley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.