Thursday, May 14, 2015
According to a faculty member, the Law School ran nearly a five million dollar deficit this year, and the Dean has pledged to cut $2.1 million of that next year, with a combination of moves: the elimination of all sabbaticals, all research stipends, a 5% salary cut for senior staff, and a 10% salary cut for all faculty. To make matters worse, the Dean, according to one source, "forbade anyone from speaking to the press about this. The materials he passed out carried two watermarks, one large across the text, and another secret one (or so he said), with each faculty member's name so he will know who the leak is, he said." Since everyone familiar with legal education knows that many law schools are struggling with financial problems, it's mysterious (and counter-productive) for a Dean to make such a threat.
Pace faculty are concerned that there has been no attempt to buy out faculty (as other schools have done) and fear a further salary cut is in the offing before long. The elimination of sabbaticals also has a number of Pace faculty perplexed, since with a reduction in its class size, Pace has excess teaching capacity, so it's not like sabbaticals require hiring adjuncts or visitors, so they do not add to costs.
UPDATE: Prof. Alexander Greenawalt (Pace) writes:
I have not polled my peers but I believe that most of my colleagues would agree that there are serious inaccuracies in the report you received. Of course I’m not thrilled to have my salary cut, but the truth is that we are part of a university that is continuing to support us, and I still have a great job at a great law school. The main thrust of the dean’s remarks was that he is implementing budget cuts that will reduce our deficit without compromising the quality of the education we provide our students. On that score, I believe he succeeded. We are not the first law school to experience a faculty salary cut, and I don’t think this is a sign that we are a sinking ship.
As to the specific allegations, the document in question is an internal memorandum written by my some of my faculty colleagues identifying possible budget cuts, several of which have not been adopted. I think it’s obvious that any law school would treat this as a confidential document. I doubt that my colleagues who authored it wanted it made public, and I think the dean would have been well within his rights to limit our access to it, for example by making it available for review only in hard copy in the dean’s suite. Instead he decided to distribute individual copies, while taking measures to discourage (without prohibiting) public disclosure. I haven’t picked up my copy yet, so I can’t tell you what it looks like or what watermarks it might have. Perhaps he should have handled this distribution differently, but my honest belief is that he was acting out of a desire to be transparent rather than punitive.
In particular, I want to emphasize that there were no threats of any kind. David did not forbid communications with the press, and indeed when asked about this he was quite clear that we were free to do what we wanted. He did ask that we not leak the document to the press, and I think that’s a reasonable request. Certainly, he did not specify any consequences if we did.
Regarding sabbaticals, David [the Dean] was clear that they will still be available for important scholarly projects.
I can’t speak for my anonymous faculty colleague, and certainly I am not accusing that person of dishonesty, but obviously we have very different recollections!
I thank Prof. Greenawalt for contacting me about this. My source stands by the original account. I think some of these issues may be matters of interpretation. I do not think Pace is a "sinking ship" at all; it has an unusually strong faculty for a regional law school, and, as I noted originally, is facing the same issues that most American law schools are now facing.