May 9, 2014

New dean, more money boost Texas A&M’s law school in Fort Worth

The Texas A&M School of Law in the heart of downtown Fort Worth has been building a lot of momentum.

The Texas A&M School of Law in the heart of downtown Fort Worth has been building a lot of momentum.

A new dean, a huge donation and an even bigger financial commitment from the A&M System are the highlights, plus a bright sign that there is more to come.

The A&M System bought Texas Wesleyan University’s law school for $73.2 million in August. Wesleyan had acquired the school in 1992 and opened its downtown campus in 1997.

The first A&M-picked dean will be Andrew Morriss, who currently teaches at the University of Alabama School of Law. His expertise is in environmental and energy regulations and offshore financial centers.

A&M’s leaders picked him after a national search that drew more than 60 candidates, the university system reported. His new appointment begins July 1.

Morriss told Star-Telegram reporter Monica S. Nagy his initial focus will be on attracting students to the school — something that might be expected as A&M starts afresh in Fort Worth.

The law school’s other news is that Morriss will have money to work with. System regent Tony Buzbee and his wife Zoe have set up a $1 million endowment for the dean’s use in building the school’s faculty and educational opportunities.

And A&M regents also gave Chancellor John Sharp authority to provide $5 million to the law school under the system’s allocation from the state’s Available University Fund. Morriss said he’ll use it to enhance curriculum and job opportunities for students.

Finally, Sharp got approval to provide the law school up to $20 million more over the next five years as a dollar-for-dollar match for funds the school might raise from private donors.

“Fundraising and donor engagement activities are already under way,” A&M said.

You can bet they are. One thing universities with the size and status of A&M have learned to do well over the years is to attract funds from successful graduates, their businesses and other donors.

That can only mean good things for Fort Worth, the city where A&M has promised to build a top-ranked law school.

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