National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools

Independent Graduate Schools Launch Groundbreaking Coalition

National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools

First-of-Its-Kind Coalition Will Ensure That the Needs of Independent Graduate Schools, and Their Students, Are Represented in Federal and State Policy and Funding Discussions

New York, NY (June 7, 2021) – Eleven independent graduate schools from across the country today announced the launch of the National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools, a first-of-its-kind coalition that will offer a collective voice and platform for independent graduate institutions while serving as a source of innovative partnerships and strategies.

The inaugural coalition members are diverse in size, geographic location, and academic focus. They include New York Law School, Appalachian School of Law, Bank Street Graduate School of Education, Brooklyn Law School, California Western School of Law, Erikson Institute, New England Law | Boston, Relay Graduate School of Education, South Texas College of Law Houston, UC Hastings Law, and Vermont Law School. There is currently no coalition of any kind that is solely dedicated to representing the needs and interests of independent graduate schools. The coalition will have three main goals: advocate in Washington for new federal funding and support, create model state legislation and regulations, and serve as a hub for shared, innovative strategies. 

The schools organized in response to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the initial COVID-19 relief negotiations, independent graduate schools received far less on average than many other institutions affiliated with undergraduate universities. A number of independent graduate schools were able to secure additional funding in later relief bills through persistent advocacy. Going forward, the coalition will continue to advocate for increased stimulus dollars and for more permanent funding streams in anticipation of Congressional reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

On the state level, the coalition will work with local officials to cut bureaucratic red tape and streamline existing regulations. In addition, this formal arrangement will facilitate new partnerships and shared strategies that will allow for stronger and more efficient services, such as shared-service arrangements and joint academic programs. 

The coalition’s operations will be funded through dues contributed by member schools. The coalition expects that the number of participating schools will grow in the coming months.

“It is essential that independent graduate schools have a seat at the table with our policymakers,” said Anthony W. Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School and the lead organizer of this effort. “Our institutions play a vital role in communities across the country. This coalition will ensure that our students, faculty, and staff have the resources needed to thrive.”

“I am so pleased that Appalachian School of Law has joined the National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools,” said Justice (ret.) Elizabeth A. McClanahan, President and Dean of Appalachian School of Law. “As my fellow members well know, the task of managing an independent graduate school is one that comes with both advantages and challenges. We are blessed to be able to use our agility and creativity to produce innovative solutions, but we are sometimes faced with limited resources and inadequate access to policymakers. Our independent status, however, creates institutional diversity in higher education that should be celebrated and understood. In my view, our new coalition presents a brilliant strategy to highlight our role in the American academy and to present the operational and educational context in which we serve.”

“At Bank Street, we know that public funding and support is critical in enabling us to continue the work we do every day to prepare the next generation of teachers and educational leaders,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, President of Bank Street College of Education. “We are looking forward to partnering with peer institutions to help ensure our voices are heard in policy conversations and to learning from each other in the interest of our students, faculty, and staff.”

“We are excited to join this association representing the particular interests of independent graduate schools, especially at this time of ongoing change, and challenge, for higher education,” said Michael T. Cahill, President and Dean of Brooklyn Law School. “We welcome this opportunity to collaborate strategically with other member schools to strengthen our institutions, individually and collectively, and keep delivering an outstanding education to our students.”

“Independent graduate schools are a vital part of the American higher education system,” said Sean M. Scott, California Western President and Dean. “While each institution maintains a unique identity, collective action is a powerful force for best serving our students.”  

“Erikson is pleased to join in coordinated efforts with our peer independent graduate schools,” said Patty Lawson, Interim President of Erikson Institute. “Higher education is rapidly changing, and it is important that we are leveraging our unified voices to secure resources and learning from one another.” 

“We are proud to serve as a founding member of the National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools on behalf of the many thousands of students attending private, independent graduate schools who, currently, are not fully represented in Washington, D.C.,” said Michael F. Barry, President and Dean of South Texas College of Law Houston. “The importance of—and significant, timely need for—this powerful, collective voice for their support is paramount to these dedicated students’ success, both in their studies and in their future careers. We are grateful for the leadership of New York Law School Dean and President Anthony Crowell and his team for spearheading such an essential platform for these future leaders who will have a profound impact on our nation.”

“A distinct advantage of the independent graduate school model is the agility and speed with which we can embark on new projects,” said David L. Faigman, Chancellor and Dean of UC Hastings Law. “An occasional disadvantage is not having a larger institution advocating on our behalf for the resources needed to support these projects. This initiative will allow us to marshal our collective voices in service of the multitude of initiatives that are the hallmark of independent graduate schools.”

“We are proud to be an inaugural member of the National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools, and look forward to working with fellow members to help ensure that the educational, cultural, and economic contributions made by all of our students, faculty, and staff are recognized both in Washington, D.C., and closer to home,” said Beth McCormack, Interim President and Dean of Vermont Law School.

View Coverage

National Association of Standalone Graduate Schools Launches,” Inside Higher Ed (June 8, 2021)

‘Powerful, Collective Voice’: Independent Law Schools, Standalone Graduate Schools Team Up to Build Lobbying Muscle,” The National Law Journal (June 8, 2021)