Monday, July 6, 2009

DePaul Interim Dean, Asked by Some Faculty to Resign, Declines

Details here.  I would be interested to see the letter from the faculty to Judge Wolfson.  One wonders what Judge Wolfson knew before stepping into this morass and also whether he appreciates the profound damage Provost Epp has done to the DePaul College of Law.  His letter suggests he does not.

UPDATE:  A colleague elsewhere has forwarded to me the letter sent by 20 DePaul faculty to Judge Wolfson:

We, the  faculty whose names appear below, are writing to urge you to resign your appointment as interim dean of the College of Law. Our request is not directed at you personally. Most of the faculty has not had the privilege of meeting you. Those who have met you speak positively of you. We are all aware of your sterling reputation as a judge.  More than that, we all appreciate that you have found yourself in a situation that is significantly more difficult than you anticipated, and that is not of your making.
Nevertheless, we feel it is our duty to point out that the method by which you were appointed was illegitimate under the ABA standards for law schools and violated DePaul’s longstanding tradition of shared governance, because it deprived the law faculty of any participation in the selection of our interim dean.

The University administration has an ABA-mandated duty to consult with faculty, and it did not do so. As set forth in ABA Accreditation Standards 106(7), 206(d), and Interpretation 206-1, the faculty must have “substantial participation” in the selection of a dean, interim dean, or acting dean.   The “good cause” exception mentioned in Interpretation 206-1 applies only to the additional requirement that no appointment be made “over the stated objection of a substantial majority of the faculty.”  The requirement of initial faculty participation is absolute.  Although the “substantial participation” requirement may be subject to interpretation, it surely cannot be satisfied by no participation at all.

We realize you may not have been fully briefed on the ABA standards when you accepted the position. We feel duty-bound, however, to make you aware of them now, and of the widespread dismay at the University’s disregard of both the ABA standards and longstanding law school practices, though all this news has probably reached you already.
Like most law faculties, we have historically had some consultative role in the selection of our deans, whether full, interim, or acting. By depriving us of any such role, and ignoring our judgment and voice, the University is sending a wholly uncalled-for message that the faculty is not deserving of its respect or regard. This message harms our reputation, the school’s standing, the value of our students’ degrees, and our ability to recruit promising students and faculty. It will also harm our ability to attract outstanding applicants for our next dean search.
We know that you are a person of conscience and integrity. We also know that, as a judge, you appreciate the critical importance of proper governance and adherence to established and required procedures.  We therefore urge you to resign and allow us to pursue our mandated and customary practices in consulting on the appointment of the interim dean of the law school in advance of that appointment.

This is well-put; I was unaware of the ABA requirements, which do seem clear.  If Judge Wolfson really is "a person of conscience and integrity" (as the letter generously assumes), then his course of action should be clear.

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