VERMILLION, S.D. — Former University of South Dakota administrators and community leaders in Vermillion say both the school and the city would be negatively impacted if the university moves its law school to Sioux Falls.

The University of South Dakota Law School Relocation Task Force met formally for the first time Monday.

The group is in charge of considering whether relocating the state’s only law school from Vermillion to Sioux Falls would be in the best interest of students, the university and the state.

The panel received opposition from former law school administrators, local elected officials and Vermillion business leaders who urged the group to resist the proposal.

“This (university) is a flagship liberal arts school. The law is a part of that liberal arts education,” said Sen. Art Rusch of Vermillion. “What will be the effect of the loss on the university? What will be the effect on the law students who are not a part of that larger university?”

Business leaders and officials also said moving the school won’t resolve the declining enrollment in law schools occurring nationwide for the past decade.

“The first of those (questions) is the fact that the decline in enrollment is a nationwide problem; it’s not a Vermillion problem, so why would we think that moving the location of the law school would necessarily be a solution?” Rusch said. “My understanding from the people that I’ve talked to is that the decline in law school enrollment nationwide is because there are other jobs available.”

University administrators said the move could encourage more applications and an opportunity to expand part-time class offerings. Sheila Gestring, the university’s chief financial officer, said cutting spending from other areas would be difficult because the law school faculty is already as condensed as it can get.

The group’s next meeting is Sept. 6.

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