Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Pomp for the Points = Spreading the Wealth?

With just about all of the Fall now grades in, many 1Ls are likely wondering what special accolades are in store for those who did exceptionally well. Dinners with the Deans? Special reserved parking? Gold plated gavels?

The answer, in a nutshell: If you did well, don't expect much. If you didn't, there's nothing to be jealous about........yet.

Here are the lengths that the UM adminstration goes to when congratulating its outstanding scholars, based on informal survey:

* Dean's List - Not sure where GPA cutoff is. Your prize will be a certificate in the mail, hot off the laser printer, with Dean's signature stamped. That's right, stamped. Last time I saw him, his hand worked fine.

* 4.0 - Yes, it has been done. Nothing more than Dean's List. Certificate is still stamped.

* Book a Class - Certificate in the mail, hot off the laser printer. Again, stamped signature.

Consensus on the certificates: cheap, tacky, not suitable for framing.

However, if you continue to do well then over the summer you might be given more certificates, only this time the stamped signature will be that of the Secretary of the US Treasury. The Dean's Merit Scholarship money flows generously in an effort to both reward those students who did well, and keep them from transferring out. I imagine that these funds are finite.

So the question raised is this: could the Deans get more bang for the buck if they made more signifcant non-monetary gestures to students who excel? The idea is that if you've sufficiently pumped up the egos of top students, you need not offer them as much scholarship (bribe) money to congratulate them and keep them from transferring. You could thus either spend less, or give scholarships to a greater number of students.

My answer to the question is YES. Having certificates professionally printed is not very expensive. Signing them personally is free (note I don't put much opportunity cost on the Dean's time...). Would a cheap dinner in the lounge be too much to ask? A week of reserved parking? Football or basketball tickets? A personal meeting in the Dean's office for a pat on the back and a handshake?

Isn't this basic negotiation and settlement strategy? Give a little, take a little?


  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger some guy said…

    I don't know if a personally signed certificate or free tickets or a meal would mean much. I think people seek excellence so it can go on the resume or lead to a good job (or maybe a few other reasons - personal satisfaction, competitiveness, etc.

    That said, any idea what the approximate cutoff was for your class for top 7 percent, top 20 percent, etc? I know the grades of a couple of my classmates but I have no clue in general how people did or where people ranked.

  • At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    dean's merit got a dinner in the student lounge and certificates - didn't check to see if it was signed or stamped but i was tuitions paid, who cares?

  • At 10:49 PM, Blogger Bricklayer said…

    I think you guys missed my point, or I didn't present it well. Jason is right, the incentives won't make anyone try harder.

    But will perks and pats keep people from transferring out? The reality is that top students transfer out of UM, they don't transfer in. When top students leave we all suffer.

    Anon is right, there was a dinner.

    Jason-I can't say exactly where the cutoff is. I assume you're asking about the 7% as it relates to law review. Whatever the math works out to, I estimate that the average LR candidate had 4 A's and 4 B's their 1L year. I think there was 1 write-on this year, but I don't know how many tried to write-on. That I know of, atleast 3 people who qualified transferred out, I don't know if that opened up spots for others or not.

  • At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not even having the certificate personally signed was a slap in the face. I've never seen Lynch on campus. Is he so busy that he couldn't sign my damn certificate? Not that it would matter much, the thing looks like something I made using the Print Shop Deluxe on my Apple IIe.

  • At 12:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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