A Message of Hope This Spring
As I write to you in late spring, I first want to acknowledge the loss of one of our most esteemed graduates and loyal friends, former Vice President of the United States Walter F. Mondale ’56. His passing is a tremendous loss to our Law School community, the state of Minnesota, and the entire country. We are continuing to honor his memory in a variety of ways, some of which you will read about in this magazine.
With the legacy of Vice President Mondale and our rich history of accomplished alumni to guide us, I am filled with optimism and hope about our future. As we pass the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic and reflect on the many challenges of the past year, I remain very hopeful that a full return to Mondale Hall is imminent. In fact, with great progress in wrestling the pandemic, we are preparing to shift back to a more traditional classroom educational model for the fall semester, while continuing to closely monitor the public health environment.
This past year has presented difficulties beyond imagination. Our curriculum was roughly 70% remote courses and 30% hybrid courses, and – even more jarring – our Minnesota Law community was significantly impacted without the robust student activity, events, and bustling work at Mondale Hall. However, with flexibility, enthusiasm, and vast reserves of resilience, students, faculty, staff, and alumni have maintained our communal bonds and found new ways to support each other and our mission during this time.
Yet as you will read in this magazine, our important mission-driven work continued unabated. Students continued to gain important skills through our clinics, successfully competed in mock trials and moot courts, published law journal articles, put on symposia, engaged in student organizations, supported communities through pro bono work, and, of course, learned and engaged in their classes. Graduating 3Ls who took the Minnesota bar exam had a 98% bar passage rate (Minnesota, first-time), perhaps our strongest on record!
Faculty and staff quickly became conversant in remote technologies and ensured that Minnesota Law adhered to its high standards of excellence for academic rigor and practical training, all while providing students the support they needed to thrive. We have had podcasts springing up, new digital publications released, and a rich set of Zoom learning and discussion opportunities. It has been wondrous to behold.
And you, our incredible alumni, have offered critical strength and our support to ensure that we thrive. You have attended virtual reunions, joined our online programming, served as adjunct professors, participated in networking and hiring events held on web platforms, and continued your generous philanthropic support that is crucial to our success in our mission to produce the next generation of lawyer-leaders.
Spring is a time of hope and, as I look forward, I cannot help but be optimistic. We learned so much during this time about new ways to teach, learn, research, and engage and, as we fully return to Mondale Hall, we will carry those lessons with us. We will return with a renewed sense of purpose, and a spirit of innovation and resilience. We will be ready to welcome a talented new class of students into Minnesota Law and into the profession, as well as visits for our loyal alumni once again.
Garry W. Jenkins
Dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law