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Thursday, August 9, 2012

SLU Law School Drama! A Roundup

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Annette Clark exits SLU law school guns a-blazin' - IMAGE VIA
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  • Annette Clark exits SLU law school guns a-blazin'
Annette Clark resigned in fury yesterday from her position as dean of SLU's School of Law, and on her way out, issued a scathing letter to Fr. Lawrence Biondi, accusing him of essentially plundering the law school for about $1 million after saying he wouldn't. Oh, and this too, she writes:
From the beginning of my deanship, you have evinced hostility toward the law school and its faculty and have treated me dismissively and with disrespect, issuing orders and edicts that allowed me virtually no opportunity to exercise the very discretion, judgment and experience for which you and the faculty enthusiastically hired me....

It is the ultimate irony that a Jesuit university would operate so far outside the bounds of common decency, collegiality, professionalism and integrity. I simply cannot be part of, and I assure you I will not be complicit with, an administration that can't be trusted to act honestly and in the best interests of its faculty, staff and students.
But Biondi quickly responded with his own letter.

He sniffed that Clark did not have "the courtesy" to attend a Wednesday meeting, at which he was going to fire her anyway. He wrote that he "strongly" disagrees "with her interpretations of the facts," but declined to comment further because it's a personnel matter.

But perhaps he did comment further by saying it was "imperative" to bring someone in with a "fresh perspective" due to all problems facing the school -- problems on which, if we're interpreting this correctly, the thought Clark was dropping the ball.

Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr. - SLU law school's new interim dean - IMAGE VIA
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  • Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr. - SLU law school's new interim dean
He wrote that SLU should show "less concern about rankings and more concern about how we teach out students." He also said more fundraising was needed for the move to the new law school downtown.

If fundraising is key, then that would make alum Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr. -- a well-connected and successful trial lawyer from Belleville -- a smart choice for interim dean.

Kudos to blogger Alex Ihnen over at NextSTL for breaking this story yesterday; KWMU 90.7 FM, Business Journal, KMOX and The Beacon followed, with the TV stations hitting it in the evening and the Post-Dispatch weighing in this morning. Even the Wall Street Journal has picked it up.

Here's an interesting legal-insider perspective from Elie Mystal over at Above the Law blog:

Law School Deans, rise.

At some point, the deans of law schools will have to stand up and stand against the way universities use law schools as cash cows. At some point, law deans are going to have to tell their bosses that university programs cannot be funded on the backs of law students who are already paying too much for tuition in a still terrible job market.

And you know what? Standing up for what's right, and standing up against the blatant price gouging happening at so many law schools, will cost some people their jobs.

Law students who read this resignation letter should ask themselves if their law deans are going to the mattresses for them every day, or if the deans are just rolling over and submitting to university pressures while trying to hang onto their jobs....

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