Dean Chesney Visits Laredo Longhorn Alumni
This story was republished with permission and originally published in The Laredo Morning Times. Photos and reporting courtesy of Louis San Miguel.
The University of Texas School of Law Dean Bobby Chesney stopped in Laredo on Wednesday as a part of the Austin law school’s “Texas Law on Tour” series.
The event was hosted by UT alumnus Ron Rodriguez (UT Law, Class of 1993) at his north Laredo office at 424 Del Mar Blvd., and it gave local alumni a chance to meet and greet the head of the law school, who was appointed as the Dean in July 2022. Chesney succeeded Ward Farnsworth, who served in the position since 2012.
A number of Laredo icons who attended the university — including the newly-appointed Dean of the Texas Senate, Sen. Judith Zaffirini — were in attendance as the dean spoke of the programs and opportunities present at the Austin school.
Chesney stressed the importance of the tour, which has a total of 16 stops, including eight in Texas, seven in the United States and one in London.
Through the tour, the law school is trying to connect with its alumni throughout the nation and the world, also representing the best of Texas to communities outside of the state.
Addressing the crowd, Chesney spoke of the importance of Laredo to the UT-Austin community and the UT School of Law.
According to the dean, the former president of the university in Bill Powers placed an added emphasis on recruiting students from Laredo, which Chesney said the school had maybe overlooked prior to the president’s tenure.
“Bill saw the university as the university of all of Texas,” Chesney said. “He made a big effort, often in partnership with Sen. Zaffirini, to get that Longhorn focus back here.”
He also spoke about Laredo’s unique culture — and its fit with the values of Texas Law — as a reason why the university has made an effort to reach its alumni in Laredo.
“I don’t need to tell you about this, you see it all day,” he said. “This emphasis on family, on community and connectivity.”
It’s this culture that is emulated in the law school’s many initiaives, which Chesney said were developed by the university to ensure its students meet success. Chesney spoke of these programs, which he said ease the financial burden on students trying to attend the schools.
“I wake up every morning and try to figure our how to control, how to lessen, the price of the law school,” Chesney said.
The law school has enacted a pipeline program, which finds underrepresented, first-generation and low-income students who may not have the financial means or knowledge to attend. Through the program, the students are taken through the admission process and given support through the university’s offices.
Chesney said that the first cycle of pipeline students graduated last year, with many of the students getting full-ride scholarships for their three years of law school.
And while books and tuition are definitely on the minds of the administrators of the school, tackling Austin’s high cost of living is also on their agenda. According to Chesney, the school has plans to open a rent-subsidized dorm for its students in the Fall of 2027 across the street from its campus.
Once complete, the dorm will hold between 250-300 people, and offer a rent rate 20-30% below the market average.
The attendees of the event applauded the programs, which will hopefully help more and more Laredoans develop their talents in Austin. They were also thrilled to welcome the dean, who was making his first stop in Laredo since his youth.
Chesney has ties to the Gateway City, including his middle name, Mims. His mother’s cousin is Border Foundry owner and operator Pete Mims, and a portrait of his ancestor is hanging in the restaurant, he said.
The visit was well-received by those in attendance, including the host Rodriguez.
“The University of Texas School of Law is one of the most prestigious law schools in the country. I am honored to welcome and host the University of Texas School of Law’s Dean, Bobby Chesney, and our community’s UT Law Alumni.” Rodriguez said. “On behalf of our local UT Law Alumni, we thank Dean Chesney and all of UT Law’s prior and current Deans, faculty and staff for providing an elite legal education that allows us to serve our community and justice system.”
During the event, Rodriguez also spoke of his ties to the law school, including the recent graduation of his son, Ronald Christian Rodriguez, almost 30 years to the day from his own graduation from the institution.
“As a member of the UT Law class of 1993, I am blessed to be celebrating 30 years of practicing law and serving our community,” he said. “My son, Ronald Christian Rodriguez, also graduated from UT Law precisely 30 years after I graduated from UT Law, and he is now the newest member of our firm.”
Rodriguez’s graduation is just one example of the commitment of Texas Law to its students, and Chesney’s goal of keeping talented Texans within the state. His hope is that the talented students of Texas Law eventually return to their hometown, using their knowledge and expertise to better their own community.