Dear Albany Law Community,
It's another great fall at Albany Law School. For the third straight year, we've welcomed a bigger, stronger, more diverse entering class and placed more of our graduating students, 90% (!), in good legal and law-related professional jobs. We've righted the ship on bar passage, placing ourselves above the state average for the first time in many years. We even saw a 29 point jump in the elusive U.S. News and World Report law school rankings over the past two years. This past spring we had a whirlwind of visitors that included: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; NBC host Megyn Kelly '95; former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Hon. Tom Vilsack '75; Legal Services Corporation president James Sandman; and our Commencement speaker, David McCraw '92, vice president and deputy general counsel of the New York Times. The past year will be hard to beat.
Our exceptional results reflect the vision, skills, and hard work of our leadership team. Today, higher education institutions require expert leaders at numerous levels—in areas like human resources, career development, finance, marketing, admissions, academics, and facilities, among others. Our school enjoys the critical leadership of numerous professionals in many capacities, giving us a team fully dedicated to providing the student experience we all expect from Albany Law School. We are fortunate in this way. This year we gained several new leaders who will continue to steer our school into the future.
First, we welcome a new chair of the Board of Trustees. After four years under the stellar leadership of Dan Nolan '78, we now turn to James Hacker '84. Chair Hacker has served on the Board for six years and knows well our challenges, our strengths, and our unique culture. He will lead the Board's efforts to support us as we continue to implement our strategic plan and build a law school for the future. He will be supported in his efforts by our longstanding board members, as well as new members Jeanine Arden-Ornt '80, Kathryn L. Tabner '91, and Student Trustee Sydney Taylor '18.
We also have new leadership in Admissions, where Amy Mangione, a lawyer-turned-admissions-professional, takes the reins. Dean Mangione comes to us from Western New England University School of Law and brings more than a decade of experience, energy, and new ideas. While we are excited to welcome Dean Mangione, we are sorry to say farewell to our outgoing Assistant Dean of Admissions, Nadia Castriota. After six years in Albany, Dean Castriota leaves us with another superb entering class: 150 new J.D. students with LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs higher than previous classes, bringing to the law school a wide range of life experience.
Over the past 39 years, strong leadership at the Government Law Center helped us earn a much-deserved first-in-the-nation ranking for government law and public service. Our newest Government Law Center Director, Andrew Ayers, joined this esteemed lineage last fall. Professor Ayers came to us from the New York Attorney General's Office where he served as Senior Assistant Solicitor General. He began his career as Special Assistant to the General Counsel for Human Rights Watch, as law clerk for the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor during her term on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, as well as for the Hon. Gerard Lynch on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In his short time at Albany Law, Professor Ayers has launched a rural law initiative and has provided unparalleled experiences for our GLC Fellows—select students who enter law school committed to careers in public service and government.
Our new Director of Academic Support and Bar Success spent his first full year at Albany Law School teaching a professional success seminar for all our students and revamping our bar preparation curriculum. This summer, Professor Joe Buffington held daily lunches for the new graduates who were studying with commercial bar exam vendors. The lunches were not just about food. Professor Buffington used the meetings to reinforce the daily lectures, administer practice bar questions, and provide constant encouragement to the students engaged in the hard work of getting ready for the July bar exam.
Seve Falati, our new Director of Programs for Patents, Technology Transfer, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, spent his first year connecting our intellectual property students with entrepreneurs. Before joining us, Professor Falati, a J.D./Ph.D., was Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a partner at a major IP law firm. In his first semester with us, he created a course called Entrepreneurship Law in Emerging Technologies. The course paired student teams with hand-picked "idea champions"—innovators identified by Professor Falati in collaboration with the Research Foundation for The State University of New York and the University at Albany. The students were tasked with identifying key legal challenges of the real-life new-technology entrepreneurs, each of whom had marketable ideas.
Students are also getting training in transactional skills under a new leader in our Law Clinic and Justice Center. There, Director and Professor Edward De Barbieri launched a Community Development Clinic, in which our students provide free legal services to small businesses and not-for-profits. The Clinic—made possible by a major gift from Edward P. Swyer and The Swyer Family Foundation—provided brief legal advice or full representation to over 40 businesses and nonprofits in its first semester, and presented a series of workshops in partnership with the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region. The Clinic provides our students a great opportunity to develop their transactional skills under faculty supervision while at the same time giving back to and growing the Capital Region.
Our new Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Information Systems, Antony Haynes, is leading us into the future of online learning. He has created and enrolled our first class in a fully online M.S. in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy law. The M.S. curriculum includes 10 online courses available to our graduate and law students, as well as to those of you eager to learn about cybersecurity. Dean Haynes is also leading our new on-site M.S. in Legal Studies programs, which include concentrations in Health Law and Healthcare Compliance, Government Affairs and Advocacy, and Social Entrepreneurship.
All of these new initiatives were envisioned in our strategic plan. Seeing them grow into tangible opportunities for our students is exciting. It also takes resources. Building a stronger division of Institutional Advancement and laying the groundwork for a future campaign to ensure the financial future of Albany Law School is a key element of that plan. Toward that end, we are delighted to welcome a new Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Jeffrey Schanz, to develop and lead a revitalized initiative. Jeff comes to us from RPI, where he served as Assistant Vice President and participated in two comprehensive $1 billion capital campaigns. Working with Vice President Schanz, Assistant Dean Anne Marie Judge will continue her excellent work in building relationships with alumni and leading our annual fund. I hope that as you meet and get to know Jeff and our other new leaders, you will share our enthusiasm for strengthening Albany Law School and positioning us well for the future.
Of course not all our leaders are new to the law school.
Our faculty leaders continue their legacy of excellence, serving with distinction on state and national bar associations, the American Law Institute, judicial panels, and in national leadership roles in legal education organizations. We are especially proud of our newly promoted faculty: Raymond Brescia, Keith Hirokawa, and Sarah Rogerson. Each earned well-deserved promotions for excellence in teaching and scholarship worthy of the great legacy of our school. I urge you to review in detail their faculty pages on the school's website. Together with the faculty members you remember from your days on New Scotland Avenue, our newest world-class faculty form the backbone of our school.
Of course, our primary focus is our students—and it is our mission to grow them into the next generation of leaders. Our current group is well on its way. Our students have planned several notable events in the coming year. Among them are a multi-day conference on Cybersecurity and Data Privacy, three national moot court competitions, pro bono law day programs for veterans and the elderly, political debates, athletic competitions, field trips, and visits from distinguished speakers. Every day we see student groups organizing educational and service activities to address issues of the day and make our world a better place.
Thanks to you
As alumni, you too play a leadership role for our school. You lead by example through your extraordinary careers. We love hearing about your achievements so we can share your stories with our students, inspiring them to craft meaningful careers with their Albany Law degrees. You also lead as mentors and advisors to our students. Many of you participate as moot court judges, guest lecturers, and by giving career advice in our Career and Professional Development Center. You've also helped us reshape our curriculum so we are preparing the graduates you want to hire. On that front, you have been extraordinary. You are loyal and hire our graduates, giving this generation of Albany Law alumni the chance we all needed at the beginning of our careers. Your actions reflect a great vote of confidence in our law school. We take your loyalty seriously and strive to meet your expectations.
You also lead by giving back to the school financially to ensure we are strong going forward, supporting opportunities for our students. We are fortunate to have extremely loyal donors each year to the Albany Law School Fund. We are so grateful to you. We also hope that those of you who haven't given will do so this year. It is my belief that people give to support areas in which they can make a personal impact, or to programs that made a difference in their own lives. Your gift to the Annual Fund is one of the most effective and meaningful ways to support students following in your footsteps, devoting their own resources and hard work to realize their dreams to become a lawyer. Your gift will allow us to continue to strengthen and grow the institution that launched our careers.
We would not be a healthy, viable, and relevant institution if it were not for you. I hope that you will demonstrate your own leadership among our alumni by choosing to support the law school this year with your gift to the Annual Fund.
On behalf of our students, our faculty, and our dedicated staff, thank you for all that you do for Albany Law School.
With sincere appreciation,
President and Dean