Free Tuition Among Perks at New Law School

UC Irvine's law school opens its doors Monday, catering to  61 stellar students who will enjoy free tuition and a 3-1 student-instructor  ratio.
For the school's dean, constitutional attorney Erwin Chemerinsky, the  opening of the school is a dream come true.
"It's gone better than I could have ever hoped for and dreamed of," Chemerinsky said of the process leading to Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony, a  remark tinged with perhaps unintended irony, given that Chemerinsky was hired,  fired and then re-hired by Chancellor Michael Drake in September 2007.

Conservative alumni and students had balked at the liberal professor's  hiring and Drake decided to rescind his offer. That provoked a national outcry  in academia, even from conservatives, so Drake offered the job to Chemerinsky  again and he accepted.

Last quarter the two taught a civil rights class together that went  swimmingly, Chemerinsky said.

"He's funny, he's direct," Chemerinsky said of Drake. "In the civil  rights class he was remarkably willing to share with the students his own  experiences as an African American, so when we talked about segregation he  could talk about how as a child he had to stay a good distance away in a hotel  when visiting Disneyland. This is a man who is a chancellor and to hear him  talk about how the police have treated him is moving."

The law school's goal was to have 60 students in its inaugural class. It  beat that goal by one student, Chemerinsky said. Moreover, the students'  median GPA and LSAT scores put UC Irvine's law school on par with UCLA as a top  15 school in the nation, he said.

The university was able to select the cream of the crop thanks in part  to full scholarships for the inaugural class. The scholarships were made  possible by a $20 million donation from Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren.

Almost as novel is the 3-1 student-faculty ratio that the 61 students  will enjoy, although that won't last forever; the school's goal is to grow to  600 students. 

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