The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 7:59 am

School's law dean denies rumors

Jeff Wiehe The Journal Gazette

Indiana Tech’s law school will have more work to do before it receives accreditation from the American Bar Association, which school officials were quick to point out Friday is not unusual for a newly established program. 

Officials with the bar association visited the 2-year-old law school last September and then contacted the school’s dean, Charles Cercone, to tell him that the accreditation process – which Indiana Tech officials hoped to have completed by this spring – would continue.

Cercone then responded to reports that Indiana Tech, which has roughly 60 law school students, failed its bid for accreditation. 

"It’s really not as simple as that," he said. "We have not received any official word from the American Bar Association about our application for provisional accreditation. We don’t have any definitive indication." 

A letter detailing what Indiana Tech needs to do and where it stands is on its way to Cercone, he said.

An official with the bar association would neither confirm nor deny that a committee with the organization has decided to recommend against accrediting the law school.

Without accreditation, anyone who graduates from the school’s first class of 2016 cannot practice law in Indiana or several other states.   

Cercone took the helm of the law school in January after the mysterious departure of its founding dean, Peter Alexander, whose hiring Indiana Tech trumpeted in 2011 before quietly announcing his departure in a media release last year. 

Cercone previously was dean at Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, a school with an enrollment of more than 2,000 students. He said in his experience what is happening at Indiana Tech did not come as a surprise and the accrediting process takes time. 

"It was not unexpected. It’s something I’ve been through with previous law schools," Cercone said of the bar association’s news that the accreditation process would continue. "It’s a long process." 

When asked if the accreditation was possible by 2016, Cercone said it’d be premature to make such a prediction and that the bar association does not allow schools to make such predictions. 

"(The bar association) is working with us to help us be the best law school we can be," he said.

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