Law professors to participate in voting rights program

Thursday, September 08, 2016

LAWRENCE — The Dole Institute of Politics announced today the addition of a Constitution Day program on voting rights featuring Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and KU Law adjunct professor Mark P. Johnson.

The annual Constitution Day program is titled “Protecting Election Integrity, Voter Suppression, or Something Else?” and will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13. It will feature a discussion between Johnson and Kobach on the Constitution and voting rights, including voter ID laws, proof of citizenship laws, the Interstate Crosscheck system and more. Stephen McAllister, KU Law professor and solicitor general of Kansas, will serve as the program’s moderator.

“Voting rights is in the news and in the courts all across the nation, and now it’s at the Dole Institute,” said Associate Director Barbara Ballard.  “This exciting panel will discuss voting rights, and we know the public will want to attend and ask their questions as well.”

The event will be free, open to the public and located at the Dole Institute. It is co-sponsored by the KU School of Law.

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting political and civic participation as well as civil discourse in a bipartisan, philosophically balanced manner. It is located on KU’s West Campus and houses the Dole Archive and Special Collections. Through its robust public programming, congressional archive and museum, the Dole Institute strives to celebrate public serve and the legacy of U.S. Senator Bob Dole.

More information on all programs, as well as ongoing additions to the schedule, can be found on the Dole Institute’s website,

Law professor named 2016-17 KU senior administrative fellow

Thursday, August 04, 2016

LAWRENCE — The Office of the Provost has selected the 2016-2017 senior administrative fellows.

The program identifies and cultivates current and potential leaders already on the University of Kansas faculty. Now in its 24th year, the Senior Administrative Fellows Program was expanded to prepare even more tenured faculty for leadership at KU.   

“This year we had an extraordinary degree of interest in the program from faculty in disciplines across KU,” said Mary Lee Hummert, vice provost of faculty development. “We are fortunate to have so many faculty eager to learn more about academic leadership.”

The Senior Administrative Fellows Program offers tenured faculty interested in leadership roles the opportunity to see the nuts and bolts of administrative activities and responsibilities. In addition to learning more about major units of the university, fellows meet with KU’s senior leadership and take part in discussions surrounding academic leadership, public policy and the future of higher education.

“Previous participants in the program have gone on to administrative leadership positions at KU, so this level of interest bodes well for KU’s future,” Hummert said. “I look forward to working with this year’s fellows.”

The class of fellows is selected from applications solicited late in the spring semester of the previous academic year. This year to accommodate interest, two cohorts of fellows have been formed. 

2016-17 senior administrative fellows

Wednesday cohort

  • Jim Backes, professor, pharmacy practice; associate dean, School of Pharmacy
  • Caroline Bennett, associate professor, civil, environmental and architectural engineering; School of Engineering
  • Chris Brown, professor, environmental studies and geography; director of environmental studies, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Florence DiGennaro-Reed, associate professor and chair, applied behavioral science, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • David Fowle, associate professor, environmental studies and geology; associate director of environmental studies, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Mugur Geana, associate professor, William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications
  • Liz MacGonagle, associate professor, history, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Amy Mendenhall, associate professor, School of Social Welfare
  • Laura Mielke, associate professor and associate chair, English, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Jeremy Shellhorn, associate professor, design; associate dean, School of Architecture, Design and Planning
  • Eric Stomberg, professor, bassoon; associate dean, School of Music
  • Margot Versteeg, associate professor, Spanish & Portuguese, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Thursday cohort

  • Genelle Belmas, associate professor, School of Journalism
  • Nate Brunsell, professor and chair, geography and atmospheric science, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Stephanie Fitzgerald, associate professor, English; director of indigenous studies, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Chris Gamblin, professor, molecular biosciences, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Heidi Hallman, associate professor, curriculum & teaching, School of Education
  • Nicole Hodges Persley, associate professor and chair, theatre, School of the Arts, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Elizabeth Kronk Warner, professor and associate dean, School of Law
  • Michelle Johnson-Motoyama, associate professor and associate dean, School of Social Welfare
  • Paola Sanguinetti, associate professor and chair, architecture, School of Architecture, Design and Planning
  • Milena Stanislavova, professor, mathematics, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Mike Wehmeyer, professor, special education, School of Education; director, Bureau of Child Research
  • Bryan Young, associate professor, civil, environmental and architectural engineering; director, University Honors Program, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Hummert leads the program with Jenny Mehmedovic, executive associate to the vice provost for faculty development.

KU-LMH partnership to provide free legal services to hospital patients

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

LAWRENCE – A new partnership between the University of Kansas School of Law and Lawrence Memorial Hospital will offer free legal assistance to low-income patients while providing invaluable hands-on training to law students.

The KU Medical-Legal Partnership at LMH is part of a national movement of hospitals integrating legal services into patient care. The model recognizes that health problems often have solutions rooted in the law, but many patients cannot afford to hire an attorney.

“For example, often patients can improve their health by ensuring they have appropriate medical leave from work or by obtaining a legal guardian who can look out for their best interests,” said Lou Mulligan, associate dean for faculty and professor of law. “This partnership is a triple win. First, it provides a great benefit for our community. Second, it improves the level of holistic care that LMH can deliver to its patients. Third, it provides an outstanding opportunity for our law students.”

Lawrence Memorial Hospital Chief Operating Officer Karen Shumate said LMH was pleased to partner with the law school to improve health care for the community’s most vulnerable members.

“We appreciate the considerable time and energy of the KU Law faculty and staff who helped get this service started at the hospital,” she said. “We anticipate a long collaboration which we hope will lead to other initiatives between KU and LMH.”

Through the partnership, LMH provides office and meeting space for the Medical-Legal Partnership and funds the salary of managing attorney Juliann Morland DaVee, a KU Law graduate with years of experience in the MLP setting.

“Working in the hospital will make it easier for us to meet with patients when they need us most,” DaVee said. “I believe this setting will also be beneficial to students as they learn to interact with patient-clients dealing with very difficult and pressing health and legal needs.”

DaVee began taking clients in late August. Under her supervision, between four and eight law students will start working on cases in the spring. Those students will have the opportunity to conduct intake interviews, develop case strategies, conduct legal research, prepare legal documents, and provide representation in administrative hearings and court – all skills that will be useful in whatever legal career they eventually pursue.

As the students hone their advocacy abilities, they will be helping clients confront difficulties with housing, employment and education; resolve insurance and benefits issues; navigate complications related to immigrant status; bolster personal and family stability, and more.

The LMH partnership builds on the success of a similar arrangement between KU Law and the Department of Family Medicine at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Third-year law student Sylvia Hernandez said she gained confidence, case management skills and a wide range of legal experience in the program.

“In the MLP, you never know what type of case you will get. It all depends on what legal services the patient needs,” she said. “I prepared an application for citizenship and a health care power of attorney. Two of my clients spoke only Spanish. Their faces lit up when they realized I could truly understand their situation. It was fulfilling to put people at ease while I advocated on their behalf.”  

In the past year, KU students at the KU Med location led by managing attorney Dana Pugh achieved positive outcomes for more than 250 clients. In one case, the MLP helped terminate the lease of a patient whose severe anxiety was exacerbated by a pest infestation at his apartment complex that property managers had ignored for three months. The patient was able to move to another apartment with safe, stable conditions, and his health issues have improved significantly.

Professor analyzing decades of data to determine patent value

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

LAWRENCE — For more than two centuries, patents have been considered a key governmental policy tool for economic innovation. And for just as long numerous assumptions have been made about what they mean to an innovation’s value, where the most important ones are litigated and numerous other questions. A University of Kansas law professor is part of a project that is providing definitive answers to these and other patent questions for policy makers through a unique, big-data approach.

Andrew Torrance, the Earl B. Schurtz Research Professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, and colleagues have developed an approach to analyze mountains of detailed U.S. patent data from 1976 to the present day. One application of their research, commissioned by Canada's Ministry of Innovation, has been a comprehensive analysis of how patents having either Canadian inventors or owners compare with those without such connections. One of their most striking findings is that patents listing at least one Canadian inventor are more than 15 percent more valuable, on average, than other patents.

In a separate study, they have shown that litigated patents tend to be much more valuable than those that avoid court, and that federal courts in the southern midsection of the U.S. play host to litigations involving the most consistently valuable patents. Current studies involve comparisons of patent values of so-called “patent trolls” and companies whose goods or services are covered by their patents, an exploration of which parts of the U.S. give rise to inventors of more valuable patents, and which areas of technology give rise to the most valuable patents.

The U.S. Patent Office recently made decades of patent data available online. Torrance and colleagues Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington used this data to build a huge database which they can use to analyze the data from a myriad of perspectives. Through this approach, they hope to test many questions arising from the perceived wisdom about patents.

“We’ve put that data together in a giant database and added other data to it as well that includes information on every U.S. patent from 1976 until last Tuesday (the day new patent data is released by the United States Patent & Trademark Office each week),” Torrance said. “We have transformed it into an easy-to-use form that allows us to run many different types of analyses.”

The Canadian Ministry of Innovation approached Torrance to learn more about the value Canadian inventors add to American patents. Their goal was to learn more about how Canadian inventors and companies perform in the U.S. patent system. The data provided a number of fascinating insights possible only through a big data approach, including one that should make Canada quite happy.

“We found that, when you add a Canadian to a U.S. patent as an inventor, that patent tends to increase in value by more than 15 percent,” Torrance said. “When you add a generic, non-American from another country, the average patent value actually tends to go down. This raises intriguing questions about how Canada fosters more successful inventors.”

What’s not clear is why Canadian inventors tend to increase a patent’s value. It could be due to the particular technology fields in which Canadians tend to invent, characteristics of science and technology education in Canada, or Canadian skill at collaborating with other talented inventors, Torrance said. But he and colleagues are beginning to analyze the data to calculate the average values of patents generated by inventors from every other country to compare them all.

The findings are unique because the data they are drawn from was largely unavailable for decades, which forced people to make assumptions about the patent system and value of patents it issued. Additionally, because the data accessed is comprehensive, the analyses can provide objective answers based on all the data rather than just small random samples.

Torrance compared it to polling: Political polls ask a sample of people questions such as which candidate they plan to vote for, then report who has a lead, based on the representative sample of people they polled. That method, widely used in research for many years, can provide a good idea of the answer to a question, but it comes with built-in error margins. The method Torrance and his colleagues are using, however, gives definitive answers because it relies on all the data. It is akin to being able to access every voter and get a definitive answer on whom they voted for.

“Having these gigantic data sets finally allows us to answer questions about which, until now, people could only speculate – and often speculate wildly,” Torrance said. “Now we can formulate a question about patent law, such as, ‘How valuable do design patents tend to be compared to utility patents,’ write a software script to analyze our huge data set and then see what answer the data give. That simply was not possible before the era of big data.”

Torrance and colleagues have already submitted their preliminary analyses of Canadian inventors and patent owners to the government of Canada, which then hopes to use the resulting insights in future policy decisions regarding the Canadian patent system and how it influences innovation. Torrance and colleagues plan to publish these findings and plan to carry out many more analyses using their data.

“Our big patent data research should keep us busy for a while,” Torrance said. “There are myriad basic questions we can now answer.”

Two projects they’ve already begun are looking at the value of patents that are litigated and where litigation of the most valuable patents takes place. In the former case, there has long been a school of thought that holds patents that are litigated in court are not inherently more valuable than those left unlitigated but are acquired by companies with the resources to hire teams of attorneys to assert those patents against others in legal proceedings.

In the latter, it has long been assumed that most patents are litigated on the coasts, and that the middle of the country is a “patent flyover country” of sorts. Contrary to this assumption, the big patent data analysis has showed that both assumptions, though long-held, are extremely inaccurate. For example, the highest concentration of valuable-patent litigation occurs in the southern middle of the country, with the coasts and the north lagging behind. Publications are forthcoming on both topics.

Torrance was also recently named a senior fellow with the Center for International Governance Innovation, or CIGI, International Law Research Program. The international, nonpartisan think tank focuses on improving international governance through research on the global economy, global security and politics, and international law. The organization brings scholars from around the world together to provide governments information on innovation and how it can address problems such as human rights, avoiding war, fighting terrorism and poverty, improving development and the standard of living for people worldwide.

Torrance hopes his ongoing research, both into patent systems and user, open, collaborative and free innovation, through CIGI, will be valuable in contributing to CIGI’s goals and to questioning assumptions that may not survive rigorous scrutiny.

“It’s great to be able to ask basic questions, then look at the data and see what they say, compared to what the assumptions are,” Torrance said. “We’re already in the age of data and are increasingly able to answer questions that were infeasible to tackle before. My background is in science, and it’s gratifying to be able to apply the scientific method to legal questions, especially when the answers upend long-held, but unjustified, assumptions. This is a great way to improve the law.”

Job placement success yields top-25 ranking for KU law school

Monday, August 29, 2016

 LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law is one of the 25 best public law schools in the nation, according to Business Insider magazine.

The rankings, which focus primarily on graduates’ success landing high-quality jobs, place KU at 48th among all law schools and 24th compared to its public peers.

“Our students have had increasing success over the past five years finding meaningful legal employment,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “Our career services office, faculty and alumni all work together to help graduates make connections that lead to their first jobs and to future success. A ranking system that focuses on employment outcomes and low tuition aligns with our goals, and it’s nice to receive recognition for what we value – an excellent legal education at an affordable price.”

KU Law’s tuition is the third-lowest among public schools on the Business Insider list, and the school ranks 30th in the nation for lowest average student loan debt at graduation.

Using American Bar Association data, Business Insider considers the percentage of graduates with full-time, long-term jobs that require passing the bar, giving greater weight to positions at the nation’s largest law firms and clerkships with federal judges. The ranking also examines the percentage of graduates who are unemployed but seeking employment, bar-passage rate, tuition and median LSAT scores.

Since 2011, the overall employment rate of KU Law graduates has risen by 12 percent, to 91 percent for the Class of 2015. In the category of “best jobs” – full-time, long-term positions that require bar passage or where a law degree provides an advantage – improvement has been even more pronounced. Over the past five years, the rate of KU Law graduates securing those jobs has increased by 19 percent, to 81 percent for the Class of 2015. These outcomes placed KU’s 2015 class in the top 23 percent of all law schools nationally for overall and best jobs employment.  

“The credit for this success lies first with our committed and focused students,” said Arturo Thompson, assistant dean for career services. “Their tenacity, combined with the support of our dedicated faculty and alumni, produces graduates in high demand across the region and the country. Every year our graduates land prestigious judicial clerkships, jobs at law firms ranging from the largest in the world to small offices in western Kansas communities, and positions with top companies and consultancies.”

Learn more about Business Insider’s methodology

KU Law alumna, student honored as 2016-17 Women of Distinction

Friday, August 26, 2016

LAWRENCE — Twenty-three women with ties to the University of Kansas are featured in the 2016-2017 Women of Distinction calendar. The Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity, which produces the poster-sized calendar, will host a reception to honor the women and their achievements Aug. 30.

The women represent KU students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni who have distinguished achievements in their efforts at KU or in their community.

“It is critical to provide role models for those who identify and present as women, given the implicit bias and structural barriers that exist that challenge women’s equal access, pay and advancement in many academic, workplace and leadership arenas,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, director of the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity. “This year’s calendar features women who inspire us to advocate, achieve and refuse to accept the status quo.” 

Seven current students, six alumnae, and 10 faculty and staff are featured on the calendar. Five areas of service and distinction also receive special attention through the calendar: Innovators advancing learning through technology, exemplary educators, global awareness ambassadors and change-makers, science humanitarians and women building communities.

First issued in 2004, the calendar was established to challenge the stereotyped representation of women in publications and the media and to provide an alternate view by instead honoring women for their accomplishments as leaders, entrepreneurs, role models and change-makers.

A reception to acknowledge this year’s featured women and their contributions will be from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, in the Ballroom of the Kansas Union. The public is welcome to attend.

The Women of Distinction calendars are free, although donations are accepted. They are available at several locations, including the KU Bookstore, Jayhawk Ink and the Emily Taylor Center, 4024 Wescoe Hall.  

Individuals featured on the 2016-2017 Women of Distinction Calendar and selected achievements and honors:

Annie McKay

President and CEO, Kansas Action for Children & Voices for Children Foundation

  • Kansas Children’s Cabinet Senate minority leader appointee
  • Sunflower Foundation Advocacy Fellow (2016)
  • Founding executive director, Kansas Center for Economic Growth

Saralyn Reece Hardy

Marilyn Stokstad Director, Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art

  • Integrating the Spencer Museum into the academic life of KU through interdisciplinary projects and initiatives.
  • Embedding living artists in the program and profile of the museum and encouraging new work from global artists.
  • Leading a facility renovation that reflects a learning mission in action and encourages KU and community engagement.

Jyleesa Renee Tate Hampton

Second-year graduate student, communication studies, KU. Hampton’s hometown is Overland Park. She attended Shawnee Mission South High School; her parents are Reba and Matthew Tate.

  • University of Kansas Graduate Research Fellow (beginning Fall 2015)
  • Appointed to serve on the KU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Task Force to address campus climate issues (2016)
  • Awarded the National Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Mid Atlantic Critic of the Year award

Abby Hall

Research attorney for Justice Eric Rosen of the Kansas Supreme Court. Hall graduated in May 2016, and her hometown is Overland Park. She currently resides in Lawrence. She attended Shawnee Mission North High School. Her parents are Jackie Millin and Jeff Krieger.

  • Symposium Editor, Kansas Law Review: included organizing Symposium on Campus Sexual Assault and publishing an issue on campus sexual assault (2015-16)
  • Robert F. Bennet Award for leadership in public service (May 2016)
  • Winner and best brief writer (with team member Ashley Akers), KU In-House Moot Court Competition (October 2016)

Shegufta Huma

Senior, political science and Spanish, KU. Huma’s hometown is Wichita. She attended Wichita East High School. Her parents are Anjuman and Mohammad Anwar.

  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights intern, Washington, D.C. (Spring 2016)
  • Muslim Public Affairs Council Policy and Government Summit Delegate (2014)
  • University Senate vice president (Fall 2015)

Jessica van Loben Sels

Doctoral candidate, Pathology Department, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

  • National Institute of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholar (March 2016)
  • Goldwater Scholar (April 2015)
  • Astronaut Scholar (June 2015)

2nd Lt. Rhavean Anderson

Second-year law student, KU; former student athlete (Track & Field).

Anderson’s hometown is Memphis. She attended Ridgeway High School, and her parents are Ray and Teresa King.

  • Became an officer in the United States Marine Corps (Aug. 6)
  • Was the senior speaker at the KU senior K-ring ceremony
  • Team captain of the KU Track and Field team (2015-16)


Innovators Advancing Learning Through Technology

Marilyn Mulligan Ault
Senior research associate, ALTEC, Center for Research on Learning, KU Life Span Institute

  • Director of ALTEC since 2000
  • Co-principal investigator on research and development projects to improve teaching and learning

Jana Craig-Hare
Assistant research professor
ALTEC, Center for Research on Learning, KU Life Span Institute

  • Making IT Happen Award, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) (2016)
  • Earning doctorate from KU (2011)
  • Actively participating in Research+Practice Partnerships with K-12 districts, schools and teachers


Amber Rowland
Assistant research professor, ALTEC, Center for Research on Learning, KU Life Span Institute

  • National School Boards Association “20 to Watch” Educator (2008)
  • Staff Achievement Award, KU School of Education (2011)


Exemplary Educators

Elizabeth Kozleski
Professor and chair, Department of Special Education, KU

  • UNESCO Chair, International Inclusive Education (2005- 2012)
  • Teacher Education Pearson-Merrill Award for Excellence in Teacher Education (2011)
  • University of Northern Colorado Century of Scholars Award (2013)

Joy Ward
Dean’s Professor of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)- conferred by President Obama in the White House (2010)
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award
  • Inaugural Wohlgemuth Faculty Scholar Award, KU


Mary Kate Dennis

Assistant professor, School of Social Welfare

  • Honorable mention, Illinois Distinguished Dissertation Award by the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, honoring and giving voice to Oglala Lakota elders (2014)
  • Hampton Faculty Fellow, the Spirit of the Eagles Program, Mayo Clinic; focusing on improving health outcomes for American Indian people
  • Hartford Dissertation Award in Geriatric Social Work, the John A. Hartford Foundation


Sharon Toulouse

Assistant director of Bands, KU School of Music

  • Third female in U.S. Army history hired into the 2LT-COL officer ranks as Army band officer
  • First female band director at KU
  • Selected to be a military mentor for the U.S. Senate Youth Program (2008)


Global Awareness Ambassadors and Changemakers

Melody Stratton
Outreach & Alumni Communications coordinator, KU Office of Study Abroad

  • NAFSA (Association of International Educators) Region II Rising Star Award (2015)
  • Diversity Abroad Future Leader Award (2014)
  • The George Washington University Graduate School of Education & Human Development Fellowship (2011)

Ashlie Koehn
Program director, Climate + Energy Project. Koehn’s hometown is Burns. She currently resides in Overland Park. She graduated from Fredrick Remington High School. Her parents are Rodney and Carolyn Koehn.

  • Truman Scholar (2015)
  • Udall Scholar (2015)
  • Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year 2013

Claire Carson MacLachlan
Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa, MacLachlan graduated from KU in 2016, and her hometown is Prairie Village. She currently resides in Togo, West Africa. She attended Shawnee Mission East High School. Her parents are Julia and Lawrence MacLachlan

  • Vice president, Alpha Kappa chapter of Omega Phi Alpha (2016-17)
  • Member, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Member, Pi Sigma Alpha (political science honor society)


Science Humanitarians

Hebron Kelecha
Medical student, KU School of Medicine. Hebron graduated with her degree from KU in 2016. Her hometown is Gardner. She attended Gardner – Edgerton High School. Her parents are Habtamu Oda and Tewabech Korecho.

  • Leadership Alliance Scholar, Yale School of Medicine (Summer 2015)
  • Elected director of Diversity & Representation for OneKU Coalition (Spring 2016)
  • Editor’s Choice Kansas City Top Model (January 2014)

Tiffany Fisher
Process engineer, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company

Fisher graduated with her degree from KU in 2016. Her hometown is Moundridge, and she currently resides in Houston. She attended Moundridge High School. Her parents are Lisa Grace and Wayne Fisher

  • Founding a new program for KU Engineers Without Borders at National Teacher’s College Kaliro in Uganda
  • Helping develop the introductory course for chemical engineering – transitioning from the traditional lecture style to being more collaborative and interactive
  • Participated four years in the SELF (Self Engineering Leadership Program) at KU

Rachel Bowes
Post-doctoral researcher in the Kansas Biological Survey

  • Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Center for Undergraduate Research, KU (2014; Honorable mention, 2015)
  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant. Dissertation research: Historical Changes in Food Web Structure of Large Rivers (2015)


Women Building Communities

Teale Muir
Medical student, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Muir’s home town is Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she currently resides. She attended Jenks High School. Her parents are James and Mary Muir.

  • Center for Community Outreach managing director (2015-16)
  • Jayhawk Health Initiative participant
  • University Scholar

Lauren Arney
Medical student, KU Medical School. Arney’s hometown is Stilwell. She attended Blue Valley Southwest High School. Her parents are Todd and Stacey Arney.

  • Agnes Wright Strickland Award Recipient, KU (May 2016)
  • KU Memorial Unions Corporation Board president (2015-16)
  • KU Student Senate senior senator (2015-16).

Nanyi Deng
Senior in psychology. Deng’s hometown is Wenzhou, Zhejiang, China. She attended Wenzhou No. 22 High School. Her parents are Changguang Deng and Lidan Qian

  • Founder, International Peer Support (January 2016)
  • Clark Coan International Student Leadership Award (May 2016)
  • Research assistant, Department of Psychology (2015-16)

International trade law expert authors book on TPP, new edition on Islamic law

Thursday, August 04, 2016

LAWRENCE — When the United States and 11 other nations recently agreed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, they set in motion history’s largest free trade agreement. A University of Kansas professor of law and international trade law expert has authored a comprehensive, objective look at the TPP, giving it a passing grade while detailing what it got right, where it could improve and why it’s important to millions of people around the world.

Raj Bhala, associate dean for international and comparative law and Rice Distinguished Professor at the KU School of Law, has written "TPP Objectively: Law, Economics, and National Security of History’s Largest, Longest Free Trade Agreement." The book is the first comprehensive, objective analysis of the 6,000-page agreement, the largest in human history. Bhala has also authored the second edition of Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a), his landmark textbook, and both books take an in-depth look at issues that will be central to this year’s presidential election.

"TPP Objectively"

“The book tries to look past the pro- and anti-TPP sides who are so often just talking past each other and screaming about things,” Bhala said. “The political debates tend to oversell the TPP as an economic engine or a catastrophe. The truth is it’s neither. Others miss that it’s about national security. Free trade agreements are not solely economic animals.”

“TPP Objectively” will be available in September as a hardcover and ebook. Copies can be ordered online.

Bhala, who has worked in 11 of the 12 TPP nations, breaks down the economic and national security aspects of the agreement and assigns it a B grade. In terms of security, he assigns the TPP an A, noting the importance it plays in securing agreements with 11 other nations. Many of those countries are longtime allies of the U.S., and others — critically — have agreed to a trade agreement on Western, capitalistic terms favored by the U.S. and not China, which is not part of the agreement. He also points out the national security significance of Vietnam’s membership, noting the entry of a 100 million person market and former bitter enemy of the United States.

Bhala gives the economic aspect of the TPP a C grade. The agreement doesn’t free up trade as much as most people assume, he said, pointing out that about 15 percent of all goods and services produced in the agreement’s member nations are not freed up. That is despite the fact that the agreement covers nearly 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Perhaps most importantly, Bhala’s book argues the TPP did not go far enough in addressing women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and those of religious minorities in terms of trade.

“The book is the first to argue we need to advance, more resolutely, the rights of women, the LGBTQ community and religious minorities,” Bhala said. “The TPP doesn’t cover much for women’s rights and does nothing for LGBTQ and religious minorities. It’s time to advance human dignity across the board.”

He argues that human rights treaties have attempted to address such topics but, while well-intentioned, are not as effective. Economic agreements among the world’s largest economic powers would get more attention and effect more change, Bhala added.

“TPP Objectively” breaks down concepts, goals, membership, logic and various national markets of the agreement in detailed, understandable language. It also examines nations that are part of the agreement, what they bring to the table specifically and nations that are not part of the agreement and why they are not included. It also examines challenges for the TPP, both short and long term. On the topic of national security it outlines how the agreement can both serve as containment for China and as a guideline for the United States’ pivot in focus from the Middle East to Asia.

While the book analyzes complex legal and international topics and can be invaluable to lawyers, scholars and policy makers, it can also be a source of indispensable insight for any reader interested in learning more about the agreement and what it means for the future of millions of people.

“The TPP is a public issue, it is not an arcane topic,” Bhala said. “It involves a treaty that covers things people eat every day, things they consume every day, intellectual property they depend on every day, labor and environmental issues, and raises women’s rights and minority rights issues. In a 6,000-page agreement there are topics that cover the lives of every American and every citizen in the other 11 member nations.”

Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a)

Bhala has also authored the second edition of his landmark 2011 textbook, “Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a).” Since its initial publication the book has been adopted for use in law classes throughout the United States and across the world. The book is the only comprehensive text on the topic, in English, by a non-Muslim law professor.

In press now, the second edition has a wealth of new material, including chapters on ISIS/ISIL, its definition, ideology, atrocities committed, its divergence from Islam and more. The book also contains updated information on the Shia-Sunni dispute and examination of the Prophet Muhammad’s actions during wars in his lifetime.

Understanding Islamic Law also presents in its second edition information on recent developments such as “burqa bans” and other anti-Shari’a law measures enacted in several nations. It also features Arabic terms, in English, a glossary of Arabic terms and expanded coverage of Islamic finance, especially Islamic joint ventures as well as Shi’ism.

The book provides the foundational materials for studying Islamic law without necessitating previous study of the religion, history or law of Islam. Additional chapters cover fields such as banking and finance, contracts, criminal law, family law and property.

Also available as an ebook, “Understanding Islamic Law” is available online.

Photo: A 2010 summit with leaders of the (then) negotiating states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. Credit: The government of Chile.


KU Law ranks 23rd for improving employment outcomes

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2014 KU Law Graduate Becky Howlett

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law ranks 23rd in the nation for improving employment outcomes for graduates over the past five years, according to National Jurist magazine.

KU Law averaged an upward trend of 3.4 percent annually in the employment rates achieved by its graduates from 2011 to 2015, the publication reported. Overall employment exceeded 91 percent for the KU Law classes of 2015 and 2014, confirming a return to pre-recession success. Moreover, "best jobs" full-time, long-term positions that require bar passage or where a law degree provides an advantage  have risen for five consecutive years, topping 81 percent for the 2015 class.

"We're proud of our students and the continuing success they've had in the job market," said Stephen Mazza, dean and professor of law. "This ranking reiterates what we've always known — that a degree from KU Law opens doors for our students both here in our region and nationally."

National Jurist ran a linear regression analysis on five years worth of employment data to find an overall trend for average annual change. KU Law is among 34 law schools with five-year trends above 3 percent. Fifty-two schools saw less than a 1 percent increase over the same time period, and 41 schools saw a drop in their employment rate.

View the National Jurist rankings | View KU Law employment statistics


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#19 moot court program in the nation
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