FORT WORTH — A dozen frustrated law school alumni filed a complaint with the American Bar Association Friday that Texas A&M University is using Texas Wesleyan law alumni statistics to market the school but won’t grant them retroactive Aggie diplomas.A&M officials say they can’t give diplomas to people who didn’t attend A&M.A news release on the school’s website states: “To date, Texas A&M law students have provided more than 120,000 hours of pro bono legal services which equates to more than $2.4 million in total legal services given to the community.”Most of that pro bono work was done by Wesleyan graduates, Arlington attorney Warren Norred said. “If I am not your alumnus, then you cannot count my results,” Norred responded.The alumni have degrees from a school that is now virtually invisible online but can see that A&M is using their accomplishments to tout its new acquisition, Norred said. Michael Hammond, a 2004 Wesleyan alumnus and Pennsylvania attorney, drafted the complaint to the bar association.“They either need to offer A&M diplomas for Wesleyan graduates, or they need to cease and desist marketing Wesleyan graduates’ accomplishments,” Hammond said.The complaint to the ABA follows a petition written by Norred and signed by more than 500 Wesleyan alumni asking A&M officials to reverse their stance that they cannot reissue diplomas. The petition was sent last week to members of Texas Legislature and officials of the Texas A&M University System. Lane Stephenson, an A&M spokesman, said Friday that he could not confirm that the petition had been received and could not comment on the complaint. In September, a group of alumni met with Aric Short, now vice dean of the law school, and Karan Watson, A&M University provost and vice president for academic affairs, to ask for the diplomas.Watson told the alumni that A&M could not issue diplomas to students who did not attend the school.In April, the university sent certificates to about 3,800 alumni that they could frame and display next to their Wesleyan diplomas, Short said. “It was really intended as a formal, tangible recognition of the graduates in our community,” Short said. The certificates are topped with the A&M name followed by the graduate’s name and a sentence about how he or she was “in good standing and a colleague of past, present and future graduates” of A&M University. “It left us scratching our heads about what is was supposed to mean,” Norred said. “It says we are colleagues. We are colleagues with all attorneys. I don’t know what this thing was supposed to do. It only made people more upset.”Short said, “For our purpose, they are all members of the alumni community. The decision on granting diplomas is made by the university in College Station, and we are trying to do everything we can in our power to include everyone.”Texas Wesleyan owned the law school for 24 years but sold it to Texas A&M in August for $73.2 million. Norred and Hammond said they hope the issue can be resolved amicably and doesn’t come to a lawsuit.“How can we be expected to stand up for our clients as attorneys if we cannot stand up for ourselves?” Hammond said.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST