Law school cuts grad reception

The Charleston School of Law has cut funding for its commencement reception this year.

If Charleston School of Law’s newest graduates want better than Ramen noodles at their commencement reception, they and their friends are going to have to pay for it.

The troubled law school’s two-member board cut the traditional post-commencement reception from its budget this year — despite pulling in $25 million in profit from the school between 2010 and 2013. The move has pushed student and alumni groups to take up a collection to cover the cost, said Matt Kelly, president of the Student Bar Association.

He and others, through Dean Andy Abrams, have asked board members and owners George Kosko and Robert Carr to reconsider holding the reception, which last year cost $21,000. “We’ve given them two weeks to stand up and do the right thing, but they haven’t,” Kelly said.

The law school is holding it’s commencement ceremony Sunday afternoon at The Citadel’s McAlister Field House. The event usually is followed by an outdoor reception for the graduates and their families and friends, Kelly said.

His group, along with the school’s alumni association and the Charleston County Bar Association’s student division, expect to raise about $6,000 for a simple reception after the commencement ceremony.

Tuition at the law school this year is $39,096, and many students borrow more than a $100,000 in student loans to pay for their law degrees.

Law school spokesman Andy Brack said he could not provide a comment Tuesday.

The school has been in turmoil since owners in 2013 announced that a sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System was in the works. Many students, faculty and members of the state’s legal community are opposed to a sale to InfiLaw because they think the company’s three law schools have lower standards than the Charleston school. Becoming an InfiLaw school will decrease the value of a Charleston School of Law degree, they have said.

The school’s future remains uncertain, and InfiLaw representatives have said they currently have no plans to re-apply for a license to operate in South Carolina from the state’s Commission on Higher Education.

Law school owners and InfiLaw representatives have said the school is in a financial crisis due to declining enrollment and the owners taking money out of the school. And former owner Ed Westbrook has said the management services fee the school must pay to InfiLaw also is adding to its financial burden.

Kelly said Kosko and Carr also have decided not to induct any students from the Class of 2015 into the Forensics Club, a group that honors students who have demonstrated leadership, professionalism, public service and academic commitment. This marks the only time since the first class graduated in 2007 that a student hasn’t been inducted, he said.

They are holding back honors that some students deserve, Kelly said. “And they are doing so at the expense and to the detriment of the students.”

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.