Furgeson Heads Up Nontraditional Law School

UP Resident Heads Up Nontraditional Law School
Royal Furgeson speaks at the inaugural convocation for UNT Dallas College of Law. (Photo: Scott Peek Photography)

As Royal Furgeson followed a long, winding sidewalk to the University of Texas’s Law School fresh out of college, he doubted himself.

“Here I am in the big wide world now with people coming from all over the place to come to this law school,” he recalled himself thinking in 1964. “And do I even know what I’m doing and will I even be able to get through this law school?”

Now, 50 years later, Furgeson — a University Park resident — has taken his law school knowledge and become the founding dean of the UNT Dallas College of Law.

He grew up in Lubbock, son of the county’s district clerk.

With his father’s influence on what good lawyers can do, Furgeson decided to attend law school after receiving an English degree from Texas Tech.

After graduating from law school, and spending time all over Texas, practicing law and serving as a federal judge, Furgeson landed in Dallas.

That’s when UNT Dallas’s chancellor, Lee Jackson, asked him to come on board as dean.

“As a dean, Royal Furgeson has an infectious enthusiasm for the new UNT Dallas law school,” Jackson said in an email. “He enjoys working with students and faculty and staff, he’s a great ambassador in the community, and he is widely respected in the legal profession for his legal mind and fairness. He is respected across the state of Texas and throughout the United States among judges and lawyers as a model for students to aspire to and so it is fitting that he is culminating his distinguished legal career by guiding the start of this innovative law school.”

UNT Dallas College of Law has been gaining attention for its nontraditional traits.

Furgeson explains tuition is cheaper than other schools — about $14,000 per year.

Once in upper-level courses, a lab will be required with each course, helping students gain practical knowledge.

And finally, professors will test their students more frequently, instead of the more traditional method involving one final exam, Furgeson said.

UNT Dallas is different because some of the students are also nontraditional.

“A lot of our students are older,” he said. “We have, I think, 10 people who have come out of military service, about 45 percent of our class is minority, and we just have people from all over the place. I mean from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds, and I just think it’s going to be so much fun to see how all these young people, and some not-so-young, come together to work together and I just think it’s going to be fantastic. So I’m really excited to get to know these young people.”

As classes began in the middle of August, Furgeson said he was most excited about getting to know the students and work with his staff.

“I’m excited that we have great teachers and a great staff,” he said. “I really like the people that I’m working with. And it’s fun to work with people that you like, so I’m excited about that. I’m excited about our student body.”

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