SIU School of Law, Stillman College pact aims to increase diversity among attorneys

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SIU School of Law, Stillman College pact aims to increase diversity among attorneys

January 26, 2022, by Pete Rosenbery

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Increasing diversity among attorneys: SIU Carbondale and Stillman College officials sign an agreement to help Stillman students enroll and earn degrees from the SIU School of Law. Participating in the ceremony from SIU were (at table from left):  Wendell Williams, associate chancellor of enrollment management; Camille Davidson, dean, SIU School of Law; Chancellor Austin Lane, and Meera Komarraju, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. On the screen are Stillman College President Cynthia Warrick, Stillman alumna and attorney Shalyn McKitt, and Lizette Chevalier, SIU associate provost for academic programs. (SIU photos by Russell Bailey)

SIU School of Law, Stillman College pact aims to increase diversity among attorneys

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Stillman College today (Jan. 26) signed a memorandum of understanding to help students from the historically Black liberal arts college enroll and earn a degree from the SIU School of Law, with the aim of diversifying the legal profession.

“We are committed to being an anti-racist and inclusive law school,” School of Law Dean Camille Davidson said. “The only way to have real access to justice is to train attorneys from various backgrounds. Students from underrepresented populations are often not exposed to the study of law, and many who are interested are not prepared for the application and admissions process. Building partnerships with HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, like Stillman, will help SIU School of Law become more diverse.”

Under the agreement, SIU and Stillman College, a 761-student institution in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, will engage in collaborative academic activities with the SIU School of Law that promote a path for Stillman College students to enroll in the law school and earn their law degree. The MOU also includes other options for students considering how they can continue their education after earning their bachelor’s degrees.

Davidson noted that about two-thirds of minority applicants who apply to the law school are not accepted primarily due to low Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores. In October 2021, there were 246 students in the law school, of which 17, or 7%, were Black.

“We are honored to be included as the first HBCU to partner with the Southern Illinois University School of Law to better prepare our pre-law students for professional legal studies,” Stillman College President Cynthia Warrick said.

“This program will allow selected students to participate in a summer pre-law program to expose them to the rigor and policies of law school admissions. We are also looking to advance similar programs in pre-health professions for students in Stillman’s Biomedical Academy with SIU. Collaborative efforts like this will ensure Stillman students are competitive for entry and success in law school and other professional programs. We are grateful to SIU for creating this opportunity.”

Summer program also planned

A summer program will bring 15 college students from around the country to SIU’s campus, May 25-29, to explore legal careers, understand the law school application process and begin to prepare for the LSAT while honing skills necessary for law school, such as understanding how to read and analyze a case, Davidson said.

“We will answer ‘Why law school?’ We want to provide these students with the resources to be successful in applying to and graduating from law school,” Davidson said. “Like SIU, Stillman is located in a rural area and many of the students are first-generation college students.”

About Stillman College

Authorized by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1875, Stillman College is a member institution of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). A coeducational college of liberal arts and sciences and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Stillman College has a proud tradition of fostering academic excellence in preparing students for leadership and service.

About SIU Carbondale

Founded in 1869, Southern Illinois University Carbondale embraces a unique tradition of access and opportunity, inclusive excellence, innovation in research and creativity, and outstanding teaching focused on nurturing student success.  As a nationally ranked public research university and regional economic catalyst, SIU Carbondale creates and exchanges knowledge to shape future leaders, improve our communities and transform lives.

SIU Carbondale officials at School of Law signing

From left: Wendell Williams, associate chancellor of enrollment management; Camille Davidson, dean, SIU School of Law; Chancellor Austin Lane, and Meera Komarraju, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, celebrate the agreement with Stillman College.

 

Stillman College officials sign memorandum of understanding with SIU School of Law

Cynthia Warrick, president of Stillman College, signs the memorandum of understanding as Mark McCormick, Stillman College provost, looks on. (Stillman College photo)