A New Dawn for UVa Law?

Phoebe Willis '18
Guest Columnist

Despite my best attempts to write the open letter to the Student Records Office in a collaborative and positive tone, I can imagine that it would be off-putting for any administrator to read a letter to them in the Law Weekly without the student first approaching their office. However, instead of being upset, Dean Dugas sent an email inviting SBA president Steven Glendon and me to come discuss the letter with him. Admittedly, Steven and I didn’t know what to expect from this meeting. Higher education is known for being a bureaucratic nightmare that is often slow-moving in adopting student input. 

To our delight, Dean Dugas not only welcomed the suggestions in the letter, but he even went about immediately implementing them. Within thirty minutes of our meeting and continuing for a few days, Dean Dugas sent and Steven and me a bunch of different mock calendar invites because he wanted to make sure that he found the one that was compatible with all types of calendars and would be easiest for students to use. Taking his willingness to work with students one step further, Dean Dugas asked the SBA for a student liaison who would meet with him monthly to discuss student feedback and new ideas. Steven Glendon will be acting as the interim liaison until a permanent representative can be appointed.

At first, I was in a state of shock after the meeting, but then, I couldn’t stop talking about it. By 3L, many student leaders have experienced a less-than-positive interaction with an administrator, and this can color their perception of that person, maybe even unfairly, for the rest of their law school experience. See my own experience missing the 3L deadline to register for classes this summer. But I have to say, working with Dean Dugas to find a solution that worked for all students (and not just complaining about my own situation) was one of the most positive and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in law school.

Dean Goluboff, often characterized as a “how-can-we-do-this” instead of a “no” style administrator, just recently completed her first year as the leader of the Law School. Could she be behind this new attitude from administration for openness and collaboration with students? Only time will tell, but regardless of why my experience working with Dean Dugas was so wonderful, all I can say is his colleagues should take a page from his book. Kudos to you, Dean Dugas.