As I reflected on this year's State of the School message, delivered to students, faculty and staff this month, a phrase kept rumbling through my mind: "And now the hard part!" In so many ways the law school is transformed: beautiful facilities home to a terrific faculty, including recent hires with national reputations, an incredibly hard-working staff, and a smart, diverse student body. The university's mission—Educating Minds and Hearts to Change the World—is alive and well at the law school and supported by loyal alumni.
The truth is, however, with these accomplishments come heightened expectations about what we can achieve in the future, expectations that raise important challenges. These include reforming the traditional curriculum to adapt to changing times, expanding the faculty, promoting continued financial stability, solving space issues as our community grows, and enhancing the visibility of all we are accomplishing.
Our storied 100-year history demonstrates that we've taken on similar challenges successfully. At the orientation dinner this year, I read from emails I had received recently recounting the profound impact of the law school on several graduates, including the recently appointed judge who said "My experience at USF shaped me into the person I am. It gave me the opportunity to reach this level and the intellectual and ethical foundations to embrace public service as the law's goal." Or the recent graduate who wrote of his experience in Cambodia, Vietnam, and the International Human Rights Clinic, "These experiences have given me a perspective on issues of global justice that few law schools are able to offer, and have solidified my commitment to social justice and the rule of law."
To be sure, these are anecdotal testimonials—and there are many more—but they are also moving examples of our past successes. They are evidence of our ability to "Educate Minds and Hearts to Change the World." In the face of hard challenges, what could be more exciting?
Jeffrey S. Brand