Thursday, October 5, 2017
I've been hearing about the turmoil at Emory Law from both insiders and colleagues elsewhere, who have also heard from insiders. Here's what seems absolutely clear at this point:
1. Prof. Robert Schapiro announced last March he would not seek another term as Dean.
2. Disregarding faculty input, the central administration (itself in transition) appointed an alum, a retired partner from Alston & Bird, as the Interim Dean.
3. A new Provost (Dwight McBride, a professor of English and African-American studies, previously at Northwestern) took over at Emory on July 1, and the Interim Dean started August 1. A Dean search committee was announced a few weeks later.
4. Suddenly, on September 7, the new Provost called a meeting of all faculty and staff for the next day. Provost McBride declined to take questions, and announced that (1) the Interim Dean was stepping aside ("for personal reasons"), and the Provost was appointing Prof. Jim Hughes (a current Associate Dean) as the new Interim Dean, but for a two-year period; this was done without any formal consultation with the faculty, and is probably in violation of ABA rules. Provost McBride also announced the suspension of the Dean search, and announced he was going to appoint "external reviewers" to assess the law school. He also, in the words of one faculty member, "launched into a litany of asserted grievances against the law school, which ranged from the uninformed to the false." (For what it's worth, Emory has managed to sustain its US News ranking, despite the turmoil in legal education--it was 22nd most recently--so it's not like a ranking collapse prompted this dramatic intervention. Indeed, one might have thought the recruitment of Prof Margo Bagley back from the University of Virginia last year was a sign of a school in a competitive position.)
I've yet to see any reporting on this, but this is, to put it mildly, a highly irregular set of events for a major law school. Readers should feel free to send me links to more information about what's going on.