Saturday, June 20, 2009

DePaul Associate Dean Siegel to Resign Upon Appointment of the Interim Dean

Stephen Siegel, a distinguished constitutional historian and longtime member of the DePaul faculty who is currently Associate Dean, announced this morning that he will resign "effective when the expected announcement is made that an interim dean has been appointed from outside the law school community without any faculty input or consultation."  To his colleagues he wrote in part:

You should notice that, although I strongly disagree with the decision to remove Glen, my resignation is tied into the mode of his replacement.
In my 37 years of service to DePaul I have served under 5 deans. (I'm not counting interim and acting deans).  Four of them were replaced mid-term.  The three mid-term replacements before Glen were removed because they had become incompetent or ineffective.  I whole-heartedly welcomed those replacements and only wished the University had acted sooner.  But every previous time, the University turned to the faculty with expectation and trust that we would step into the breech - and we did, superbly, working cooperatively to bring the best out of the situation.  This time, although we have the most talented and prestigous collection of faculty we ever have had - we have effectively been put into a two year receivership - with no consultation, dialogue, trust.
Again, I disagree with removing Glen, but the decision could have been implemented with far less collateral damage to our standing.  For example, a simple announcement that Glen had decided to resign effective a year from now - and that a normal seach for a successor to continue our advancement would begin immediately.  Our future has been made far more difficult - the collective work of a generation of faculty and deans, which had finally reached sustained takeoff, was decisively set back. 
Letters to the University President and Provost from other law faculty, including all the junior faculty, have made similar points.  Provost Epp has done extraordinary damage to the College of Law at DePaul, and all because the Dean was using the ABA review process to force the University to abide by a financial agreement the university had breached.  That is what the Dean of the law school is supposed to do; the University Administration is also supposed to abide by its agreements.
Who will take the job of Dean at DePaul while Provost Epp remains in office?  No one with any academic credibility quite obviously--all this reminds me of the Irvine Deanship fiasco, which, if Chancellor Drake had not wisely reversed himself, would have spelled the end of the new UCI law school before it began.  No one serious, or with any self-respect, wants to be Dean of a law school where the Administration behaves caprciously and recklessly, whether out of incompetence, vanity, or in response to external political pressures (the latter not, presumably, an issue in the DePaul case).  One imagines that many law schools in the Chicago area, as well as nationally, are looking over the faculty roster at DePaul this weekend thinking about whom they might recruit.
So will Provost Epp have the wisdom of Chancellor Drake?  In the midst of a severe economic downturn, including in the legal market, removing a successful Dean who is, by all accounts, well-liked and respected by faculty, staff, students, and alumni all because the Dean stood up for the interests of his College really defies belief.  There is, perhaps, someone at DePaul who ought to be summarily removed from office, but it does not appear to be Dean Weissenberger.
UPDATE:  The full text of various open letters from faculty are here.

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