(AP) -- Tennessee regulators rejected a plan to move Valparaiso University’s
struggling law school to Middle Tennessee State University, casting
uncertainty on the future of the northwestern Indiana law school.
Higher Education Commission voted 8-5 Monday to deny the school’s transfer
to Middle Tennessee’s Murfreesboro campus.
The two schools’
governing boards had endorsed the transfer agreement earlier this month,
nearly a year after Valparaiso announced that the private college’s law
school was facing severe financial challenges.
officials said in a statement that they were disappointed by the
commission’s vote, and would continue providing the opportunity for students
currently enrolled in its law program “to complete their legal education
through Valparaiso University Law School in a timely manner.”
The statement did
not address what future options remained for the law school, and school
spokeswoman Nicole Niemi said Tuesday that the university had no additional
The law school was
founded in 1879 on Valparaiso University’s campus in Valparaiso, about 15
miles southeast of Gary.
MTSU officials had
championed the law school’s proposed move to the Murfreesboro campus, saying
that it would give students in central Tennessee the option to study law at
a public university close to their home.
Sidney A. McPhee said in a statement after Monday’s vote that there were
“concerns about competition by the state’s two existing public law schools.”
law schools reside at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and the
University of Memphis in Memphis.
McPhee said the
commission’s decision “denies a legal education to Nashville-area students
financially unable to attend an expensive, nearby accredited private
institution or unable to relocate to a public institution hundreds of miles
away in Knoxville or Memphis.”
If the transfer had
been allowed, the MTSU law school would have been the seventh in Tennessee.