Dean who oversaw Cooley's dramatic rise and fall in enrollment to retire

After more than 27 years as the dean of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Don LeDuc is retiring. He is the third-longest serving dean, and oversaw WMU-Cooley’s rapid expansion into what was then the largest law school in the nation in 2010, and its even greater decline in enrollment since then.

LeDuc graduated from Wayne State University Law School in 1967 and joined WMU-Cooley as a law professor in 1975. He served as dean from 1982 to 1987, and again from 1996 until now. He also assumed the title of President of the independent law school in 2002. 

In 1995, the year before LeDuc became dean for the second time, the Lansing, Mich. school's enrollment was about 1,700 students. By 2010, that number increased to 3,931, after the school opened additional campuses in Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Tampa Bay, Florida. At that time, it was almost twice the size of the second largest law school. 

But then applications to all law schools began to drop sharply and WMU Cooley saw the largest decline in terms of percent and raw numbers. Enrollment dropped to 2,334 in 2014 and 1,203 this past year. 

The school closed the Ann Arbor campus in 2014, but started offering classes at Western Michigan University’s Kalamazoo campus in 2015. It also laid off staff and faculty in 2014. Also that year, the independent law school affiliated with Western Michigan University and changed its name. This past year, first year enrollment was its largest in several years, at slighly under 600. 

The law school has chosen former Michigan 29th Circuit Court Judge and retired WMU-Cooley Associate Dean Jeffrey Martlew as interim president beginning in September 2018. He retired as the founding associate dean of the law school’s Tampa Bay campus in 2016. 

 

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