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60 Chapman Law School Students Accept Tuition Refund

September 16, 1997|RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Nearly 60 Chapman University law school students have accepted an unprecedented offer of a tuition refund in response to a stalled bid for national accreditation, university officials said Monday.

Those accepting the offer represent almost one-fourth of the 247 second- and third-year students enrolled at the 2-year-old law school before the offer was announced. It allowed them to withdraw by Monday and receive a full refund of the $18,000 annual tuition they had paid to date. Third-year students who remained could get half their money back if the university did not win accreditation by the time they graduate next June.

As of mid-afternoon, 44 second- and third-year students had decided to leave school now for a full refund, spokeswoman Ruth Wardwell said. In addition, 13 third-year students had agreed to remain but signed up for partial reimbursement, she said.

"Those who were weaker [academically] were called in, and it was suggested they give very serious consideration to this," Doti said.

Enrollment at the law school when classes started two weeks ago, was 287. The private university, whose main campus is in Orange, has total enrollment this fall of about 3,500.

Any law school student who accepts either option waives the right to sue, an important facet of the agreement for a law school already facing litigation from a dozen students who contend that they were misled about accreditation chances.

University President James L. Doti said many of the students were performing poorly academically, leading law school officials to urge several to consider the refund offer.

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