Monday, January 24, 2011

Pondering the Angst Over Another Canadian Law School Dean Search

Canada doesn't have a ton of law schools, but it does seem to have more than its share of dean search issues.  Sometime back I blogged here, here, and here about the dean search kerfuffle at the University of Windsor law school.  Now there's been some strurm und drang around the law dean search at the University of Saskatchewan.  According to this report, members of the school's dean search committee are furious when the school's board of governors overruled the committee's selection.  The board instead named University of Alberta law professor Sanjeev Anand to the post.  Anand appears fully qualified for the job and it's unclear whether he was a passed-over finalist in the search - or if the board simply picked him out of thin air. 

If it is the former, and the committee just liked someone else better, the committee members' ire may reflect a different set of expectations than are present in U.S. dean searches.  In the States as Brian has pointed out, the norm is that the university administration may pick any candidate from the basket of qualified finalists; in Canada, it seems that the decisions of search committees are normally granted greater deference. That difference, in turn, may well reflect the fact that Canadian law schools are less commonly mini-universities and more akin to departments.  Here in the U.S., many law schools are "tubs on their own bottoms".  As a result, the university understandably wants to make sure that the chief administrator is not only a solid academic, but also capable of running a multi-million dollar non-profit.

I don't know enough about the Canadian model to be sure, however.  I've opened comments so that others might provide greater insight on these issues.

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