As I write my message as incoming President of our Alumni Association, I am reflecting on how important the University of Texas School of Law has been in my life. I daresay the same is true for all 23,500 of you, whether you practice law or not. The tools you were given, the hard-edged thinking process you learned, the friends you made and the degree you earned have likely been among the main pillars of the life which you have built. We have been blessed by the opportunity to attend the University of Texas School of Law.
My appreciation for my education, however, is not the primary thing that motivated me to accept this position. I took on this role for a very specific reason: although we consistently rank among the most elite law schools in America (consistently in the top 15, top 5 among public law schools, and recently ranked first for a return on investment by U.S. News and World Report), our percentage of alumni giving (12%) ranks well below those schools against whom we compete – and this must change. I want to be part of that change with you.
The truth of the matter is that the State of Texas no longer funds the law school at the level it did years ago. As a result, tuition has increased resulting in crushing debt burdens for some of our students as they graduate. Moreover, the competition to attract and retain the world class educators for which UTLAW has always been known has grown exponentially, especially as we strive to rise higher in the rankings. All of this creates enormous financial pressure on our school. Our law school needs our help.
So why would it be that we rank so low in alumni giving? After all, our highly ranked law school produces many successful lawyers and our alumni association is huge. There is no reason to think that our alumni are any less generous than those of the schools against whom we compete. No, it’s not a lack of generosity or a lack of love for our school. I firmly believe that our 12% alumni giving rate is the product of the misperception that the State of Texas fully funds the law school. And I am convinced that correcting that misperception will trigger our alumni to rally in support of our school and to give. As in all things, knowledge is key.
Bottom line: if we wish to keep UT Law at or near the top of the heap, we alumni must help to maintain its preeminence, and advance the school to greater recognition for the benefit of itself and its alumni. We can no longer be satisfied with 12% alumni giving. It is up to us, the alumni, to help our law school. We must tell our law school and the students who attend it that “we have your back.”
Your Alumni Association Executive Committee is composed of 31 of your fellow graduates who are committed to this effort. They are spreading the word and working to increase the level of participation. Our alumni base is like a sleeping giant which, once awakened, will lead the law school to ever greater heights.
As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
Bruce A. Broillet, ’74
Alumni Association President