North Texas Daily

New dean of UNT Dallas College of Law discusses priorities, vision

New dean of UNT Dallas College of Law discusses priorities, vision

New dean of UNT Dallas College of Law discusses priorities, vision
April 19
21:52 2018

Felecia Epps will serve as the new dean for the UNT Dallas College of Law, the college announced on April 2. She will be replacing Royal Furgeson on July 1.

Epps has nearly 30 years of experience in law and nearly 20 in higher education. She began her legal academic career in 1999 as an attorney at the University of Arkansas Little Rock Bowen School of Law, according to her biography.

Epps’ initial three-year contract will last into 2021, with the option for the university to extend if it wishes. She will receive a $250,000 annual salary as dean.

Epps told the North Texas Daily about her plans, priorities and mission for the college.

Q: What’s your vision for UNT Dallas College of Law, including improvements, changes or growth to the college?

A: My first priority is student success — we want to educate and equip a diverse group of future attorneys with the tools to go out and change the world. We must equip students to be successful in law school, on the bar exam and in the practice of law.

My vision is for our alumni to have experienced a variety of aspects of the practice of law by the time they graduate. Consequently, my second priority is experiential learning. It is important that students graduate with actual knowledge and experience practicing law. This will involve expansion of our Legal Clinic program to encompass more subjects and to allow students to have a variety of experiential learning opportunities.

My third priority is community service. Lawyers must provide pro bono service, but should also serve as needed in other philanthropic capacities. I plan to develop a signature public service event for the UNT Dallas College of Law.

Our major focus must be attaining full American Bar Association accreditation. Once we have achieved that, we will create other programs.

Distance Learning is more prevalent in law schools. An innovative program must include Distance Learning. Creating a Distance Learning program would increase our reach to students outside the Dallas area.

In addition, we will collaborate with the other UNT Dallas colleges and programs to create interdisciplinary programs or degrees beneficial to all UNT Dallas students. This might allow them to pursue two degrees at once or a joint degree.

We are scheduled to move into our renovated facility, the former Dallas City Hall located at 106 S. Harwood Street, in the summer of 2019. For the moment, that will be the only new physical expansion.

Q: Last May, you ended your term at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University School of Law. How do you feel you will fit in as the new Dean at UNT Dallas College of Law after Royal Furgeson retires this summer?

A: I was attracted to FAMU College of Law because of its mission. Simply stated, the mission is to transform the lives of a diverse student body by legal education and thereby transform the community. UNT Dallas College of Law has essentially the same mission but is not part of a Historically Black College or University. The mission transcends the HBCU designation. I fit at UNT Dallas because this mission is my life’s work. I believe that education transforms lives for generations.

Judge Furgeson is a legend in the Texas legal community. He was the ideal choice to start the school. He is a hard act to follow. I plan to work hard and move forward with what Judge Furgeson started.

Q: As of November 2017, there was a report saying only 59 percent of student graduates from UNT Dallas College of Law passed the Texas bar exam. Are you going to take action to improve this percentage? How so?

A: Our students come to law school because they want to practice law. Passing the bar exam is a critical piece to that end goal. The college has an Academic Success Program and a Bar Pass Program. The leaders of those programs are already working on ways to improve the bar passage rate. We will develop a comprehensive program that engages the students before they begin their first year and takes them through the bar exam. This will be a collaborative effort involving faculty, academic support professionals and the administration.

My ideas include: (1) a program before students start law school that will emphasize critical skills (writing and analysis). (2) Continuous review of the curriculum to ensure that it is innovative and effective. (3) Review of the assessments and feedback given to ensure that both are effective. (4) Benchmarks every year, such as a diagnostic exam, to ensure that students are on track.

Featured Image: Felecia Epps. Courtesy UNT System

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Jacqueline Guerrero

Jacqueline Guerrero

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