Friday, June 19, 2009

DePaul Provost Ousts Law Dean Without Consulting Faculty, Plans to Appoint an Outsider as Interim Dean

DePaul University Provost Helmut Epp yesterday sent the following e-mail to the faculty:

I write today to inform you that there will be a change in leadership at the College of Law effective immediately. At my recommendation, the president and I have removed Glen Weissenberger as dean and hired a new interim dean who will be announced soon.

I can assure you that this decision, which is being made in the best interests of our students and the College of Law, was made only after long and careful thought and consideration.  I respect all you have accomplished under Glen's leadership.  However, the working relationship between the dean and the administration had deteriorated to the point where it had become difficult to accomplish the college's work, hence my recommendation to the president for this action....

We have selected a highly qualified and respected member of the legal community to serve as interim dean, ensure a smooth transition and continue the momentum you have given to the college. I look forward to making an announcement about the candidate in the very near future.

By all accounts, Dean Weissenberger was successful and popular with his faculty (he had been reappinted to a second five-year term in 2007).  In response to Provost Epp's e-mail, and to an outpouring of support from the faculty, Professor Weissenberger wrote to faculty and staff of the Law School this morning:

I want to assure you that I was not terminated for any wrong doing of any kind.  My termination was based specifically on a letter I sent to the ABA supplementing information which the ABA already received.  I was told by the ABA that I had a duty to submit this information immediately because the Accreditation Committee is meeting next week.  I gave notice to the University that I would be filing the separate letter.  I am attaching a copy of the letter, because it is part of the record in our ABA accreditation process.

The ABA documents are here:  Download DePaul ABA.  It's a lengthy set of materials, but I believe the following is an accurate summary:  the College of Law at DePaul was entitled to 75% of its tuition revenues under an ABA-enforced agreement between the College and the University Administration; the University has repeatedly breached this agreement.  Professor Weissenberger challenged the University's failure to honor the agreement.  Now he's been fired.

I suppose it is worth noting that Provost Epps was part of the Administration during the Finkelstein tenure scandal, when the Administration of DePaul also did not discharge itself admirably.

I will post more information as it becomes available.  Signed comments from members of the DePaul community, or others with knowledge, are welcome.  THE COMMENTS MUST INCLUDE A FULL NAME AND VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS, or they won't appear.  Please post only once, comments may take awhile to appear.

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There is now an online petition for those supportive of Dean Weissenberger at:

Posted by: Craig M. Boise | Jun 19, 2009 11:53:11 AM

Is it possible that Dean Weissenberger was fired not for challenging the University's failure to honor the Margin Agrement, but, rather, because he attempted to solicit the involvement of the ABA in order to put pressure on the University to honor that agreement?

Is it possible that Mr. Weissenberger spitefully sent off the letter to the ABA knowing that it could cause accreditation problems with the University.

The content of his letter may be entirely accurate, but if he sent it without consulting with his employers, did he violate the terms of his employment with them?

There is always more than one side to every dispute.

Posted by: peter pappas | Jun 24, 2009 9:44:54 AM

All of these things are in the realm of possibility, but none of them seem to be what actually transpired. The Dean was correct to use the ABA to pressure the University to abide by an ABA-mandated agreement. The Dean of an ABA-approved law school has to disclose certain facts to the ABA, regardless of what a corrupt administration would prefer.

There is always more than one side to every dispute, but it's often the case that only one side has any merit to it, and the other side is self-serving rationalization. So far the university has provided no evidence to support its 'side.'

Posted by: Brian Leiter | Jun 24, 2009 10:57:04 AM

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