Dr. Mel Hailey is being recognized as the nation’s best pre-law adviser with the Dean Gerald Wilson Award for Excellence.
Dr. Neal Coates, chairman of the Department of Political Science, said the winner of this award must have an uncanny sense of how to match students’ interests in law schools with their ability to gain admission.
“Dr. Hailey’s combination of knowledge and empathy are characteristics which only the best of the best develop, and it takes several years of dedication to do that,” Coates said.
The Pre-Law Advisors National Council (PLANC) gives the Dean Wilson award annually to the best pre-law adviser among all U.S. colleges and universities.
Coates said this is a huge honor, and the department had not planned for it.
“What this means for our department is that we hear national recognition for what we as a department already knew – that Dr. Hailey is a fantastic adviser,” Coates said. “This particular honor is like winning the NCAA basketball tournament or winning the Super Bowl; it is something that happens once in a lifetime and signifies great dedication to students and to the Christian purpose of the university.”
Graduates from the Department of Political Science have a 99 percent acceptance rate to law school, along with a 90 percent acceptance rate for graduates campus-wide.
“Dr. Hailey is very much responsible for quality pre-law preparation for our majors and for ACU in general,” Coates said. “He’s beaten the stuffing out of the competition.”
Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life and a former student of Hailey, said students can give him all the components they are looking for in a law school, and he can spit out four or five schools that fit.
“He is almost like a law-school genie,” Riley said.
Riley said there is an endowed scholarship for Dr. Hailey that many of Hailey’s students are inspired to give back to.
“People always ask me how Dr. Hailey is doing,” Riley said. “He is just kind of a legend as far as ACU attorneys and as far as ACU alumni.”
Hailey has worked at ACU since 1974. Doubling as a pre-law adviser and professor for over 20 years, Hailey served as president of the Southwest Association of PreLaw Advisors (SWAPLA) and chairman of PLANC.
Hailey said he was honored and humbled to receive the Dean Wilson award.
“I do not consider myself to be the best pre-law adviser in the country, but I am honored to be recognized by my colleagues for being a part of a community that is concerned about giving good advice to individuals who plan on becoming lawyers,” Hailey said.
As a pre-law adviser, Hailey said everything he does is geared toward the students; his joy is found in their success.
“I am very fortunate to be a pre-law adviser at ACU which recognizes the value in advising its students for graduate schools,” Hailey said. “I am grateful to ACU for giving me the opportunity to expand my interest in the field of pre-law advising by making it part of my job here.”
Hailey will travel to Las Vegas in October to receive the award, and he will also be recognized at the PLANC in conference June 2016.