AUSTIN, Texas —Minority enrollment at The University of Texas at Austin School of Law has increased for the fall 2000 entering class, according to Assistant Dean for Admissions Shelli Soto.
The most dramatic change, Soto said, is in the number of African American students — 18 — enrolled this fall compared to seven in fall 1999. There also are 34 Mexican American first-year law students at UT Austin, a gain of two over the previous year. They are among a total of 477 first-year law students at UT Austin who began classes for the fall 2000 semester on Wednesday.
Soto credits the work of the entire law school community — administrators, faculty, students, and alumni — for this rise in minority enrollment.
“Our commitment to recruiting has allowed us to make a very positive step this year. The Student Recruitment and Orientation Committee works with great dedication each year providing tours and hosting students, but what took us over the top was the assistance we received from our alumni — people like state Sen. Rodney Ellis of Houston, state Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk,” Soto said.
The dean of the law school, Bill Powers said, “We are delighted with the improvement in our minority enrollment. The lion’s share of the credit goes to our loyal alumni who have worked so effectively and tirelessly on behalf of their alma mater. We have much more to do, but we are excited about this upward trend, and we are determined that it continue.”
The efforts of several UT Austin law school alumni are especially noteworthy, she said. Ellis visited frequently with groups of minority students and convinced several national air carriers to provide complimentary airline tickets to prospective students, allowing them to visit the UT Austin campus. Ellis and Cuellar now are working to expand this program in the coming year. Kirk, Cuellar and others also played active roles as recruiters for the law school.
Two other UT Austin law school alumni were instrumental in creating the Texas Leaders Scholarships for the Ex Students’ Association. Larry Temple of Austin championed this scholarship program while serving as president of the Ex Students’ Association, and Joe Jamail of Houston, a benefactor to the University and the School of Law, provided much of the initial funding. These scholarships currently provide financial assistance to 59 UT Austin law school students.
“The influence of our alumni, along with the ability to bring to campus students who otherwise could not visit, and the financial assistance provided by the Texas Leaders Scholarships, help make us competitive with other law schools,” said Soto.