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Sunday, June 28, 2009

More on DePaul's Firing of Dean Weissenberger

Following up on my previous coverage of DePaul's firing of Dean Glen Weissenberger:

In Conflict Between DePaul University Officials, Students Over Ousted Law Dean Hits Facebook, The Shark reports on several statements made by Provost Epps at a meeting with DePaul students (a complete account is in this Facebook post):

  • University officials gave Dean Weissenberger the opportunity to resign, but he refused.
  • Dean Weissenberger consistently spent more than the law school budget allowed, in excess of $1 million.
  • Dean Weissenberger filled four positions at the law school without permission from the provost.
  • Dean Weissenberger's decision to contact the ABA was "highly irregular" and "making mischief."

A DePaul faculty member shared with me for posting on TaxProf Blog an email from Dean Weissenberger to the faculty addressing the circumstances of his firing:

From: Weissenberger, Glen
Sent: Tue 6/23/2009 7:56 PM
To: ***
Subject: RE: The Meeting

Colleagues,
 
I would be happy to clarify with the faculty any facts regarding my termination. I would be pleased to meet with you and set the record straight. The statements attributed to Mary Dempsey, John Simon and and Helmut Epp are misleading if not outright false, and I would happy to clarify what actually occurred in regard to every matter..
 
For now, let me assure you that I did not make unauthorized tenured offers.  Early in the process I cleared these appointments with Kelly Johnson, and I have the e-mail to prove it.  We also reported early in the process in writing that we would be making lateral, tenured appointments. New hiring protocols were subsequently rolled out this year, but we had already complied with them.  Brian Havel is quite familiar with our compliance.  Without checking the record, Provost Epp sent me an e-mail while I was at the AALS meeting in San Diego instructing me to rescind or withdraw our four offers within 24 hours and to demonstrate I had done so by sending him tracking receipts.  I responded by e-mail and told him I would not do so. I frankly spent several days thinking I would be fired.  When I returned to Chicago, I met with the provost, and he backed down. To suggest that this is a basis for my termination is false and disingenuous. Yes, I admit that many deans would have terminated the offers as directed to save their jobs, but in this case, the only thing I am guilty of is standing up to an abuse of authority.
 
I will be happy to discuss both the fiscal matters and the ABA reporting matters with the faculty.  Very quickly, the deficit spending in certain accounts was a matter that has continued for several years. Every year for the past several years, we cured those deficits with gift monies and other discretionary money.  We were frequently commended by the provost for honorably curing the deficits.  We did this even in years when the university failed to transfer funds to the law school pursuant to Margin Agreement. You can't imagine how deeply offended I am that this mutually condoned practice has been cited as a basis for my termination, and that members of the Board of Trustees have been mislead to believe that I have not exercised fiscal responsibility. 
 
As to ABA reporting, clearly the Board members have been mislead.  I cannot begin here to explain the complexity of the reporting to the ABA regarding the Margin Agreement, but let me assure you that getting this matter right with the ABA will determine our fiscal viability for a long time. That is why when I discovered a problematic aspect of the University's calculation of the margin, I sent a letter to the ABA. I was told by the ABA that I had a duty to do this, and I advised the provost that I would send the letter.  I followed a protocol that I had a duty to follow, and as such, this simply cannot be a basis for termination.  Just to point out how slippery these issues are, the provost handed out a spread sheet at the meeting on Monday. I took one look at it and realized that it was not relevant to the issue being discussed.  The document referred to BUDGETED income and expenses. The Margin Agreement is based on ACTUAL income and expenses.  In fact  the whole idea behind the Margin Agreement, is to return actual revenue to College of Law when it exceeds the budgeted revenue. Again, I am deeply offended that this type of disingenuousness is used to mislead the faculty and the trustees.
 
I really don't want to debate the provost and the president about my record. I am proud of everything we have accomplished in seven years and the record, even with the fabrications, cannot possibly justify termination. I can absolutely assure you that I have never acted improperly as to hiring, the budget or the ABA.  What I am guilty of is mastering these areas in a way that threatens those do not want to adhere to the principles of shared governance.  I have also demonstrated a leadership style that is fearless in the face of intimidation and bullying.
 
Again, I am happy to meet with the faculty to discuss any facts it needs to have clarified.
 
As always, I am grateful for your support.
 
Glen
 
P.S. It's been a great run, and I loved every minute of it no matter how it ended.  Thanks. I am proud of all of you. 

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Comments

"Making mischief" sounds like something the Ayatollah Khameini would say about people demonstrating for democracy. I don't think that's going to help the administration's case much.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jun 28, 2009 1:43:13 PM

Until there is a change of leadership at the top (not just the provost, but also the president and most of the trustees), this episode will severely affect DePaul's ability to hire and retain faculty and administrators at all of its divisions, not just at the law school.

Posted by: CU Alum | Jun 29, 2009 10:54:57 AM