TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Turmoil at DePaul

DePaul Three developments following yesterday's post, ABA Dismisses Complaints Over DePaul's Funding of Law School, Firing of Dean:

1.  A DePaul faculty member shared with me a memo that ousted Dean Glen Weissenberger sent to the faculty in response to the ABA's action:

Dear Colleagues

It was reported today in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that the "ABA clears DePaul in funding flap."

You will recall the most recent episode concerning this matter involved a letter I wrote to the ABA on June 18th, which resulted in my termination within 48 hours. I have previously shared this letter with the faculty. In this letter I pointed out that, contrary to previous representations made to the ABA, the University and the College of Law did not appear to have an agreement as to the so-called Margin Agreement which governed the law school's budget.

Subsequent to my removal, the University corresponded on two occasions with the ABA, apparently about finances. Because I was no longer dean, I was not provided with copies of those letters, and to this day I do not know what the ABA was told. I also believe that no one representing the faculty has been provided with a copy of this correspondence. Consequently, no one responded to the two letters.

I received the ABA Report this morning. I can infer from the contents of the ABA report, however, that the University may have yet again changed its position in these two pieces of correspondence.

There are several points worth making here:

First, it is heavy handed, perhaps even desperate, to silence an opposing viewpoint by firing the representative of that position.

Second, it is the antithesis of fair play to communicate unilaterally with an accrediting body and then to refuse to disclose contents of the communication to interested parties.

Third, my correspondence to the ABA that resulted in my termination was not inflammatory in any way. I did not accuse the University of anything improper. I merely pointed out that if the ABA was relying on a bilateral agreement in determining our compliance with the standard on financial support, information about that agreement that had been previously reported to the ABA, appeared to be inaccurate. I was told by the ABA that I had a duty to report this information.

Fourth, the standard applicable to finances, Standard 201, makes reference to "adequate" resources, i.e. the minimal resources necessary to sustain a program. This issue was never addressed by a representative of the faculty because of my termination, Nevertheless, it has never been my position that we lacked this minimal level of support for accreditation purposes. My position was and remains that we have needed a higher level of support, reflected in the original Margin Agreement, to achieve our greater goals.

Finally, the ABA in its July 23rd Report has required a report back on Standard 203. This Standard applies to strategic planning and the "means" to achieve the goals identified by the planning. It is here that the matter of financial resources moves to the forefront. Unlike Standard 201, which addresses the issues of adequacy, Standard 203 addresses how a law school plans to achieve a level of support to achieve its goals. While I was dean, it was never my aspiration to be dean of an adequate law school, but rather I always sought to lead a superior law school of which we all could be proud. It is for that reason that the Margin Agreement is critically important to our law school's ability to achieve the greatness we have shared in creating.


Glen Weissenberger

2. A DePaul faculty member shared with me a memo to the provost from tenured faculty member Stephen Siegel (who earlier resigned his position as DePaul's Associate Dean for Research, Scholarship & Faculty in protest of the unviersity's actions).  The memo is in response to the provost's decision to give Interim Dean (76 year old Illinois state appellate judge Warren Wolfson) a three-year faculty contract to follow his two-year term as Interim Dean:

Dear Provost Epp,

Once again, these days, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to differ about matters of great importance.

Of course, when you say about Judge Wolfson's three additional years as a faculty member - "it is part of the agreement that brought the Judge to DePaul in the first place" -- that is true as a matter of brute fact. But the departure from collegial norms, University standards, and ABA rules, is revealed to be that much the greater now that we learn -- not from you but from a newspaper - about the additional three year, post-deanship, stint on the faculty.

Admittedly, I am saying "you" because you took responsiblity for replying to my note, something which I appreciate. I really should be saying "you all" - for the President and Trustees Simon and Dempsey (and perhaps others) were fully part of the decisions. I am writing this to them as well; for they have the ultimate responsiblity for the disregard and disrespect shown to the faculty of the law school.

As one of you has said: your #1 job is to protect the University. It is most unfortunate that you all proceeded on the unwarranted assumption that it was necessary to protect the University from the faculty.


3.  Brian Leiter asks, in DePaul Deanship Scandal Gets Worse: "Will the ABA be as passive in the face of DePaul's violation of ABA rules on decanal and faculty appointments?"

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