Background and rationale
This year marks 111 years of teaching law at Rhodes University. Over time, the Faculty (established as such in 1951) has established itself in teaching and learning, building on experience gained over time.
The alumni of the Faculty have done the Faculty proud, in legal practice, in business and as influential members of their communities. In its interaction with members of the legal fraternity, business and society, the Faculty has established numerous mutually beneficial relationships with alumni and others who have the best interests of the Faculty at heart. In order to remain relevant and up-to-date and to implement our vision of being a centre of excellence in teaching and learning, research and community engagement, it is proposed that the Faculty harnesses the collective experience and goodwill of its alumni and friends to the benefit of its students and the institution as a whole by establishing an Advisory Board to serve as a link with the legal fraternity (in all its different guises), an advisor and a sounding board.
It is proposed that the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Law, Rhodes University be established as an independent body at the initiative of the Faculty to advise the Faculty on a variety of matters, including curriculum design and innovation in teaching and learning, research opportunities, postgraduate programmes, community engagement, bursaries and fundraising. The Board will serve to formalise and strengthen the Faculty’s existing relationships with senior alumni and friends of the Faculty with in interest in the well-being of the Faculty and its students.
The Faculty Board has considered and approved the proposal. The Faculty therefore seeks the approval of Senate for the establishment of the proposed Advisory Board, where after the Advisory Board will be established. Parallel to the internal process of seeking institutional approval, the Faculty, through the Dean, will approach potentially interested friends and alumni of Faculty to gauge their support for the idea.
The Faculty of Law is a single department Faculty and the smallest at Rhodes University. The Faculty has sixteen academic staff members who teach courses across the range of Legal Theory, Commercial Law and the LLB curricula. Several staff members also supervise students enrolled for LLM- and PhD-degrees by research. The Faculty prides itself on its undergraduate teaching in Legal Theory and the LLB-programme and wishes to enhance its teaching further and establish itself firmly as a centre of excellence in engaged teaching and learning, and in engaged research that makes a difference in society. The Law Clinic forms an integral part of the Faculty through its community outreach, exposure of students to legal practice and opportunities for engaged research. In order to achieve this goal, the advice of alumni and friends who are at the proverbial coalface will be invaluable.
The Advisory Board
It is envisioned that members of the Advisory Board will hold senior positions in their organisations. As such, they will be people who shape the contours of the legal fraternity, of business, of the private and public sectors. In their capacities as leaders and senior managers, they will have insight into the demands of their respective sectors and new developments in those sectors. They will thus be able to advise the Faculty on various matters, including proposals for changes in the curriculum, providing ideas for innovation in teaching and learning, identify research opportunities and advise on postgraduate programmes, community engagement, bursaries and fundraising and other matters on which the Faculty may seek the advice of the Advisory Board. The views of the Advisory Board will not have any binding authority, but will impact on decisions ultimately taken by the Faculty.
Objectives of the Board
It is envisioned that the Advisory Board will strive to meet the following objectives:
• to provide a means of building relationships between the Faculty and the legal fraternity, business, public and private sectors as these sectors are involved in legal services in the broadest sense;
• to provide guidance and advice on issues regarding the curriculum, teaching and learning, community engagement, postgraduate programmes, fundraising and bursaries and career advice/mentoring for students
It is envisioned that the Advisory Board be comprised of a Chairperson, a vice-chair and ten to a maximum of twenty members with in interest in the well-being of the faculty. Membership of the board will be beneficial to members through the direct influence the advice of the Advisory Board may have on the work (and thus the students who graduate) from the Faculty.
At the outset, a call for nominations of members of the Advisory Board will be placed on the Faculty Website and alerts thereof will be sent to friends and alumni who have expressed an interest in participating in this body. The initial Advisory Board will be appointed from the nominees by the Faculty Board where after members of the will be admitted to by the Advisory Board in accordance with its Constitution (draft attached).
In appointing the first Board, the Faculty Board will take care to appoint members representing a broad spectrum of interest groups, and will ensure that membership is broadly reflective of the gender and racial composition of society.
Meetings and costs
It is envisioned that the Board will meet twice a year; once in Grahamstown on Rhodes Campus and once in Johannesburg or Cape Town as convenient for the majority of the Board, and a venue provided either by members of the Advisory Board (outside Grahamstown) or at our home, Lincoln House on Rhodes campus. Staff of the Faculty (three representatives) and at least two student representatives, as deputised by the student body, will also be in attendance at meetings.
The Faculty has limited means, and one of the areas in which it is in need of advice, is the area of fundraising and securing our financial future. At the moment it does not have the means to cover the expenses of the members of the Advisory Board to attend the meetings of the Board, as is often expected. However, with the assistance of the Board, the Faculty will endeavour to work towards the establishment of a fund to cover the expenses of members in the future. Membership and participation in the Advisory Board will therefore be a labour of love (and at a cost for the members) – at least at first and it hoped that this is not too ambitious an ask. Costs could be limited by arranging for meetings at the time of Market Day, or during Careers Week, and through exploring a virtual meeting space. The Faculty will cover costs in Grahamstown, within its modest means and that of staff members and students in traveling.