TaxProf Blog

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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Former Maryland Dean Asked to Return $60k Paid for Summer Research; AG to Decide Propriety of $350k Paid for Untaken Sabbatical

Rothenberg Following up on my post this week on the controversy surrounding a state audit report flagging "questionable compensation payments" to Maryland Dean Karen Rothenberg:  university officials have asked Dean Rothenberg to return $60,000 paid as four summer research grants, and have asked the state attorney general whether the Dean can be asked to return $350,000 paid for for an untaken sabbatical leave:

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Well, I'm not surprised that the Feminist Law Professors blog came out on this by defending the former dean and coming down on those attacking her...because she's a woman, naturally. -- The Internet Pile-on over a Woman Dean’s Paycheck

Paul, why are you piling on a woman's, male chauvinist pig!?

Posted by: Woody | Feb 27, 2010 10:05:36 AM

Three questions:
(1) From

Rothenberg’s base compensation is listed in university records as being the following: 8/2003: $288,925; 8/2004: $304,161; 8/2005: $327,246; 8/2006: $365,000; 7/2007: $408,450; 7/2008: $485,778; 9/2009: $485,778.

Sabbatical pay is normally full pay for one term or half pay for two terms. How, then, did she get $350,000 for her untaken sabbatical?

(2) Would data like this justify the IRS in doing an audit? That is, if the IRS sees a newspaper report of somebody doing something shady, is that enough justification for an audit? It certainly makes me think the probability of tax evasion is high.

(3) I don't know details, so let's make this a hypothetical. Suppose a dean applies for money to do research or a sabbatical, but he is ineligible as a dean and doesn't present any significant amount of evidence that he's doing or has done any research. A faculty committee and an administrator then approve the money. Are any of the following criminally liable?

1. The dean
2. The faculty on the committee who voted in favor (or failed to object, if no formal vote was taken)
3. the authorizing administrator

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Feb 27, 2010 12:10:12 PM

Ok, let me just make sure I've got this right:

1. Public law school (tax payer supported, at least in part).

2. Base comp. around 400k (at the high end, even for deans at the respectable schools in the top 20, which Maryland is not).

3. Additional un-earned comp. for "research" that wasn't conducted and sabbatical time that never occured, all to retain a "top" person.

4. Additional comp. authorized under secrecy and questionable procedures.

Hmmm...sounds a lot like Wall Street, except this occured at a PUBLIC institution with PUBLIC dollars...

Tell me, how is this any better than the circumstances that are so very scorned in New York!?! Tell me, why shouldn't a Maryland alum be absolutely PISSED OFF as they struggle to make those loan payments, while unable to gain meaningful F***ing legal employment, knowing that tuition increases involved these payments to Ms. ROTHENBERG!?! I come...

Posted by: XYZ | Feb 27, 2010 2:32:38 PM

So many people in this country are so vastly overpaid.

It's completely out of control.

Posted by: Chester White | Feb 27, 2010 5:34:28 PM