SIU School of Law partners with Governors State University to offer a pipeline to JD degrees

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SIU School of Law partners with Governors State University to offer a pipeline to JD degrees

SIU School of Law partners with Governors State University to offer a pipeline to JD degrees

June 30, 2022, by Pete Rosenbery

SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, center at table, and Governors State University President and SIU Carbondale alumna Cheryl Green, second from left on screen, celebrate the institutions’ new partnership today (June 30) during a virtual ceremony. With Lane are, from left, School of Law Dean Camille M. Davidson and Lizette Chevalier, associate provost for academic programs. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

CARBONDALE, Ill. — In a historic move to create pathways to degree and advanced degree completion and to diversify the pipeline to the legal community, Governors State University (GSU) this week entered an agreement with Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU) that will allow students to earn both bachelor’s and juris doctor (JD) degrees in six years.

Under the unique 3 + 3 partnership, a mapped curriculum will be provided for students in anthropology and sociology, English, and political science majors. According to the partnership, students will fulfill their senior year of undergraduate school at GSU, while enrolled in their first year of law school and living at SIU Carbondale.

The partnership will shave up to a year off the traditional seven-year juris doctor timeline and also allow both schools to explore other concurrent degrees such as JD/MBA, JD/MSW or JD/MPA.

GSU President Cheryl Green first set the BA/JD program as a goal early in her presidential tenure, which began in 2020. “Governors State University is honored to work with the Southern Illinois University School of Law to advance the ideals of equity and inclusion in the field of law. We know that the number one barrier to degree completion is financial, and this partnership was created with that in mind. By offering students an opportunity to complete two degrees in six years, we are improving their chances of success while saving them thousands of dollars.”

I am excited about the opportunity for us to remove barriers and to expand diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the field of law. I am also excited about creating opportunities for GSU students that don’t currently exist on our campus. This is an innovative partnership that we can all be proud of and that I look forward to advancing on our campus,” Dr. Green said.

Green, who earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees at SIU Carbondale, said the partnership represents a full-circle moment for her.

“Southern Illinois University is a top-rated research institution that allowed me to achieve a high-quality education without student debt. I’m proud to offer Governors State’s Jaguars the same opportunities that served as the foundation of my career,” she said.

Camille M. Davidson, SIU School of Law dean, said she is thrilled to collaborate with an SIU Carbondale alumna to remove barriers to law degree completion. “President Green is a Saluki, and it's exciting to work with her and her team,’’ she said.

“There are so many professional opportunities for people who have a juris doctor. These collaborations give us an opportunity to share information with undergraduate students and help prepare them to succeed in law school.”

Davidson noted the lack of diversity in the legal profession, citing statistics show that the field has approximately 4.5% African Americans and 4% Latinx. In seeking a partner that offered academic excellence and diversity, GSU was a perfect fit. Governors State is both an MSI, minority serving institution, and emerging HSI, Hispanic serving institution.

SIU’s efforts to diversify the legal profession also include a summer program to provide rising college juniors and seniors preparation for law school, insights into opportunities after graduation and interaction with attorneys, law students and law school faculty. 

“One of GSU's students was selected to participate in our inaugural Diversity Prelaw Summer Institute,” Davidson said. “We hope to have more participants next year.”

About Governors State University

Governors State University is a four-year comprehensive university that serves nearly 5,000 students on a rich and culturally diverse campus outside of Chicago. The university, founded in 1969, provides an exceptional and accessible, high-value undergraduate and graduate education to individuals seeking to make a local, regional and global impact.

About SIU Carbondale

A nationally ranked public research university, SIU Carbondale offers a unique tradition of access and opportunity, inclusive excellence, innovation in research and creativity, and outstanding teaching focused on nurturing student success. Distinct among its peer institutions, SIU grants research opportunities to undergraduate students that other universities may reserve for graduate students.  A regional economic catalyst with world-class facilities nestled among forests, a lake and university-owned farms, SIU strives to achieve its mission while advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and promoting sustainability. The SIU School of Law was founded in 1973 in the public interest to serve the public good. The ABA accredited and AALS member law school is one of the 10 smallest law schools in the country