WILLIAMSBURG -- General Assembly financing for a new law school building during the coming biennium apparently is not crucial to the continued American Bar Association accreditation of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.
President Thomas A. Graves Jr. and an ABA representative who visited William and Mary on Wednesday both indicated that the college is considering "interim solutions" that could satisfy the ABA if funds are not forthcoming from the General Assembly next year.
Graves disclosed three weeks ago that ABA accreditation is in jeopardy, largely because of the inadequacy of the school's physical plant, and underlined again Wednesday the urgency of William and Mary's request for $5.5 million to build a law school.
There have been indications from state officials, though, including State Sen. Edward E. Willey, D-Richmond, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, that money will be extremely tight and that the college should consider alternatives to a new building in the coming biennium.
Graves, speaking to newsmen following the visit Wednesday of ABA consultant James P. White, said the college will be considering "between now and the end of fall semester . . . how best to cope with the situation if alternative plans become necessary on a temporary basis."
He did not say what the alternatives would include.
"Looking for Solutions"
White, speaking at a news conference after a morning in which he met with Graves; George R. Healy, vice president for academic affairs, and acting law school dean Emeric Fischer, said "the college has indicated that they are looking at some interim solutions . . ."
If the funds do not come through next year, White said, "we would hope that there is some sort of interim solution devised by the state and by the college that would satisfy our concerns."
White stressed once again the inadequacy of the law school's physical plant and library, saying that it is "in no way in compliance with our standards."
After talks with college officials on his third visit this year, White said it is "unlikely" the ABA accreditation committee will recommend loss of accreditation.
"I think that both the college and the state are responding in good faith, given the financial exigencies that exist, and I would hope that some solution could be devised to satisfy the American Bar Association," he said.
After the two-hour morning meeting, White talked with law school faculty members and then met with a large group of Marshall-Wythe students in the moot courtroom.
He said he spent the meeting with Graves discussing "internal matters" contained in his July 31 letter, which outlined deficiencies threatening ABA accreditation.
"I personally feel satisfied that [the college] is well on its way to correcting those concerns," White said.
He declined to enumerate them.
Later, though, he said that one of the most important concerned the law school's admission policies. Asked what the ABA's concern was, he responded by reading the policy on admissions, which said, in essence, that the admission standards of an ABA-approved law school must be formulated and administered by the law school.
News reports Tuesday had said that White's July 31 letter stressed the need for greater law school autonomy from the college's general admissions policy.
Graves himself said Wednesday that the second internal matter discussed between him and White had been faculty promotions, although he did not elaborate on the point at issue.
White stressed, in his news conference, that the ABA regard the Marshall-Wythe academic program, faculty, and student body as "good," and that the major problem facing the school is that of physical resources.
Richmond Times-Dispatch at C-1, C-15 (October 16, 1975)
Times-Dispatch State Staff, "Hope Seen for W&M Law School Rating" (1975). 1975-1976: Emeric Fischer (Acting Dean). 6.