Welcoming the new school year with an infusion of diverse backgrounds, experiences

Green Hall is almost in full swing again for fall.

The new 1Ls are on Day 3 of the Entering Student Program. Today it’s ethics and professionalism, an introduction to the Kansas Bar, lunch with small sections and a Lawyering session on case briefing, class preparation and studying.

Their classmates who started back in May joined them this week. Second- and third-year students begin classes on Thursday, but some of them are already here. The entire staff of the Kansas Law Review is meeting down the hall from my office this morning to get organized for the year. From the sounds of things, it’s an enthusiastic bunch.

The KU Law Convocation on Wednesday will officially mark the start of the new academic year.

It begins with an infusion of new blood. We welcome 163 new students to the three-year J.D. program. The Class of 2012 is joined by 10 students enrolled in the Two-Year J.D. Program for Foreign-Trained Lawyers and six students pursuing an S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science).

These students come from 77 colleges and universities in 22 states and the countries of Ecuador, Cameroon, China, Eritrea, Italy, Kenya, the Philippines and South Korea. Thirty-nine percent of them are women, and 17 percent identify themselves as ethnic minorities.

They range in age from 21 to 53 and speak 11 languages, including Arabic, Ukrainian and Chinese.

They are champion debaters, bagpipe players, print and broadcast journalists, National Merit Scholars, certified SCUBA divers, dancers, athletes, coaches, volunteers and combat veterans. One rides a unicycle and holds the Guinness World Record for longest individual drum roll. Another is an Army captain with two Bronze Stars and a Combat Action Badge for service in Iraq.

Needless to say, the incoming class adds a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to the Green Hall mix. We couldn’t be more excited about the rich environment.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a video on Rice Distinguished Professor Raj Bhala, who is featured in the latest installment of KU’s Professor Profile series. He discusses, among other things, the value of international perspectives in the classroom: http://bit.ly/sLf2e

Mindie Paget