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A Transformed Educational Experience

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Strategic Plan for Vermont Law School

Since the 1970s Vermont Law School has been driven by a mission to make the world more sustainable and just through education. We’ve developed advocates, activists, leaders—some 7,000 graduates—who’ve carried this mission to Main Street, Wall Street, the dusty roads of Smalltown, U.S.A., and abroad, working to effect change in areas ranging from criminal law to human rights to environmental law and policy.

The Strategic Plan further extends that mission. It provides the means to move beyond borders to provide our unique education to students anywhere in the nation, anywhere in the world, affording them flexibility to balance academic goals with careers and 21st-century life.

VLS has come to stand for innovation in law and policy education, pioneering programs, centers, clinics, and curricula. The Strategic Plan builds upon these successes and VLS’s core strengths: an excellent juris doctor (JD) program; the nation’s best environmental, energy and food systems law and policy curriculum; thriving law school-based master’s programs, among the first in the nation; a first-of-its-kind online program for master’s and master of laws (LLM) students; and groundbreaking experiential and international programs.

Now we have the opportunity to transform ourselves to lead in law and policy education in ways that adapt to a rapidly changing world. Technology, market and cultural forces have profoundly altered the role of attorneys and other professionals, requiring us to equip our graduates with new capacities and new knowledge. The same forces are changing the process of education itself, eliminating the previous limitations imposed by physical distance, opening international opportunities, and pushing us toward a more flexible and outcome-based program that far surpasses the boundaries of our physical location in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

The Strategic Plan focuses on the drivers that will see us succeed. The Plan distills these changes into three basic objectives, and defines strategies and actions for each. We will:

  • Protect and Build on Our Existing Strengths. VLS will reinforce and enhance the existing strengths that are core to its identity and its mission to offer the best possible education, and to create a just and sustainable world;
  • Construct a Transformed Educational Model. VLS will reinvent the content and delivery of its education to increase accessibility, to reduce costs, and to better prepare graduates for professional roles in the 21st century; and,
  • Engage Students, Faculty, and Broader Community in a Permanent Process for Change. VLS will create a mechanism, distinct from the academic program, to support the incubation of faculty and student ideas, engage students and faculty in improving the world, and develop new sources of revenue for the school.

Achieving these objectives will ensure the future success and health of Vermont Law School as we—the Board of Trustees, our faculty and staff—carry forward the VLS mission for future generations of students and alumni. Thank you to everyone in our community who helped shape the ideas outlined herein, and to those of you who embark on this journey with us.

Marc Mihaly
President and Dean
August 2016