Classes for A&M law school in Fort Worth start Monday

Posted Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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As the long-awaited Texas A&M University Law School prepares to start training Aggie lawyers in downtown Fort Worth, university leaders touted their deal Thursday.

“We do think it’s going to make the world better,” quipped Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp during a news conference at the Fort Worth law school.

Sharp was among A&M and Texas Wesleyan University dignitaries who formally marked the transition of Texas Wesleyan School of Law to the Texas A&M School of Law. Mayor Betsy Price and City Councilman Zim Zimmerman, an Aggie, also attended.

“We are going to make it the greatest on planet Earth,” Sharp promised.

The A&M System bought the Wesleyan Law School for $73.2 million this week. The system paid the Fort Worth private university $30 million, and the remaining $43.2 million will be paid out annually from 2014 through 2017.

In addition to the purchase of the law school, the two institutions also entered a lease agreement for the property and non-law school assets. On each of the next four anniversary dates of the purchase, Texas A&M will pay Wesleyan $7.7 million, with an option to buy the property with a final payment of $11 million on the fifth anniversary.

“This transaction is a win-win-win for Texas A&M, Fort Worth and Texas Wesleyan,” said Texas Wesleyan President Frederick Slabach.

Slabach said A&M can help the law school become a nationally acclaimed institution. This ambition is welcomed by Wesleyan leaders who take pride that they helped grow the school.

Wesleyan bought the law school in 1992 and opened its downtown campus in 1997.

Slabach said the money will help Wesleyan focus on revitalization efforts at its campus and the east Fort Worth community that surrounds it.

“Texas Wesleyan is sound financially,” Slabach told the Star-Telegram this week. “This transaction will help us in terms of our endowment.”

Sharp said A&M is committed to being in Fort Worth.

“We like Cowtown,” Sharp said. “It’s our kind of place.”

The law school is at 1515 Commerce St. downtown, across from the Fort Worth Convention Center. This year it will have about 750 students, including about 250 starting their legal training this fall.

“I’m really excited,” said Joakim Soederbaum, who started law school as a Wesleyan student but will graduate as an Aggie in May. “I’m really excited about the postives for this school and for myself.”

Student orientation has been underway, said Aric Short, interim dean of the law school. Classes start Monday.

“Everyone is an Aggie law student moving forward,” Short said.

Money for the law school purchase came from the Texas A&M University budget, said R. Bowen Loftin president of the flagship campus in College Station. The law school will be under the Texas A&M University umbrella and is the first in tha A&M System.

Loftin said tenured faculty from Texas Wesleyan became tenured under A&M last week.

“We will march together toward achieving a mutual vision,” Loftin said.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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