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Law school letter opens donation discussion

BOSTON - Saying that it seeks to preserve its "historic mission" and its commitment to legal education excellence and diversity, Southern New England School of Law has offered to enter into discussions that could lead to the donation of its assets to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

The donation offer was conveyed in an October 5, 2009, letter from Southern New England School of Law Board of Trustees Chair Margaret D. Xifaras to UMass President Jack M. Wilson.

Under the terms of the possible donation, the University of Massachusetts would receive cash assets and the campus that now houses the 235-student Southern New England School of Law in Dartmouth - with the total value of the offer estimated at $22.6 million.

President Wilson thanked officials at Southern New England School of Law for making "a very generous offer" and said the University would launch a comprehensive review process.

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack described the potential donation offer as "extraordinarily generous," noting: "We have a wonderful chance to expand higher education opportunity in Massachusetts by accepting this historic donation and building an innovative public law school that offers an excellent and affordable education for students."

President Wilson said he has asked officials at UMass Dartmouth to review the relevant academic, financial and legal issues and to put forward a proposal based on Southern New England School of Law's donation letter. President Wilson said UMass system officials would then engage in an extensive due-diligence review process.

In her letter, Xifaras, chair of the Southern New England School of Law board of trustees, wrote: "Our aspiration and objective is to resource and empower the University to carry forward with our historic mission and commitment to provide affordable, accessible, and excellent legal education to a diverse group of students who might not otherwise have this opportunity."

Contact: Robert P. Connolly, 774-455-7188; John Hoey, 508-999-8027



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Robert P. Connolly
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