Roger Williams cuts tuition, names Yelnosky dean

Roger Williams University Law School has announced a tuition reduction for the next academic year. It is the sixth school to announce at least a partial reduction. It also announced the hiring of a new dean. 

The private Rhode Island school will drop tuition by $7,608, from $41,400 to $33,792 a year, and it has guaranteed no tuition increase for three years.

“This reduced tuition rate makes Roger Williams University School of Law one of the best values on the East Coast and creates access for an even broader population of future attorneys,” said Donald Farish, president of the university.

It joins Penn State University Dickinson School of Law, Ohio Northern University — Claude W. Pettit College of Law (20 to 25 percent reduction), University of Cincinnati College of Law (30 percent for out-of-state residents) and University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law (11 percent for in-state residents and 8 percent for out-of-state residents) and University of Iowa College of Law (16.4 percent for both in-state and out-of-state students).

Current students at Roger Williams can either retain their current financial aid award and pay the old tuition or relinquish their financial aid and pay the new lower tuition. Roger Williams gave out grants that totaled $4.51 million, according to Equal Justice Works. That means the average student spent $8,373 less than the posted tuition. But only 301 of its 506 students in 2012-2013 received a grant, according to data from the ABA. So, 40 percent of the study body will fare better under the new plan.


Roger Williams University President Donald J. Farish named Michael J. Yelnosky – a founding faculty member, former associate dean for academic affairs, and key leader in Roger Williams University School of Law’s two-decade legacy as Rhode Island’s only law school and as a leading institution in Southern New England – the School’s next dean. Yelnosky will succeed David Logan, one of the nation’s longest-serving law deans, when Logan steps down this summer to return to teaching at the law school.

Yelnosky’s appointment as dean comes as the law school celebrates a 20-year legacy of preparing students for law practice, producing outstanding scholarship, enhancing the legal culture across Southern New England, and providing legal service to individuals and communities in need. His selection concludes a search process initiated in August, when Logan announced that he would return to teaching following this academic year.

As a founding faculty member who served a four-year term as associate dean for academic affairs from 2004 to 2008, Yelnosky (who, in 2011, was named distinguished service professor of law) has played an integral role in the School of Law’s early history and has participated in developing many of its signature programs. At a time when major challenges face the legal profession and legal education nationwide, he emerged as an ideal candidate for moving the school forward while providing continuity and stability.

“Not only has Michael Yelnosky been an instrumental force in RWU Law’s emergence as a major influence on our region’s legal culture, educating practice-ready lawyers and serving the area’s neediest populations, he has been a consistent voice of wisdom, innovation and progress as the School adjusts to changing professional and economic realities outside the academic world,” Farish says. “His deep understanding of the law school’s strengths, combined with his insight and vision on meeting the challenges now facing legal education, make him the ideal choice for this vital role going forward.”

Yelnosky says that having spent virtually his entire career in legal education at the School of Law, Roger Williams is a special place for him: “I have seen the school grow into a remarkable institution through the hard work and talents of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and our many other friends and supporters – members of the bench and bar and other community and government leaders. I look forward to helping us continue to design and implement innovative approaches to preparing our students for modern law practice while remaining true to our core values of teaching, scholarship and community service.”