Photos courtesy of Middle Tenn. State University At first glance, the two schools are opposites.

Valparaiso University is a private Lutheran institution with 3,255 undergraduates in northwest Indiana’s Rust Belt, just an hour’s drive from Chicago.

Middle Tennessee State University is a public school with about 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students in Murfreesboro, one of the nation’s fastest growing cities.

One school keeps a focus on faith, fosters a tightknit student community, and every winter clears lake-effect snow from its sidewalks and roadways. The other boasts the second-largest number of graduates among public universities in its home state, rallies around its Division I Blue Raiders and has an average high temperature of 48 degrees in January.

However, as different as they may be, the two institutions now have at least one thing in common – legal education. Valparaiso and MTSU announced in late June they have entered into a nonbinding letter of intent to transfer Valparaiso Law School to Middle Tennessee.

“I was shocked,” said Murfreesboro attorney Kirk Catron. “I was really surprised.”

Valparaiso has emphasized the talks between the schools are preliminary, with both sides still exploring the option. Still, Catron’s reaction was echoed by others.

The announcement followed turbulent fall and spring semesters for Valparaiso Law School. In November, after the American Bar Association lifted its public censure of the law school, the university announced it was suspending admissions for 2018 and looking for ways to remain open. As the school year came to a close, Dean Andrea Lyon stepped down.

Jaime Oss, managing partner at Huelat & Mack PC and 2003 Valparaiso Law School graduate, was bewildered at how her alma mater and MTSU got connected. She expected the law school would join another school in Indiana, Chicago or Michigan.Valparaiso Law School has a rich history in northwest Indiana and strong ties to the attorneys there. Alumni often return to attend a continuing legal education seminar, help students and reconnect with former classmates. Its possible exit will leave a hole in the legal community. story continues below “I don’t really know how I feel about it,” Oss said of the potential transfer to MTSU. […]

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