Friday, July 29, 2011
At a meeting at 4 o’clock on July 28, University President Robert Bogomolny asked for my resignation as Dean of the School of Law. As of today’s date, I have resigned my position as Dean. ...
In the last two years, tensions have been increasing between the University administration and me regarding the financial relationship between the University and the School of Law. When I was a candidate for the Deanship, I was aware that, historically, the University retained a high percentage of the revenue generated by the law school. I was assured by the President at that time that he was aware of the problem and would work with me to remedy it over time. As I began my deanship, I realized that the law school did not possess accurate data in many areas, including its financial situation. Obtaining accurate financial data regarding the School of Law has not been an easy task. ... My insistence on having accurate data has exacerbated the difficulties between the University and me.
Every seven years, the ABA inspects law schools for renewal of their accreditation. The law faculty drafted a self study in the spring of 2010 as part of our ABA reinspection process. The percentage of law revenue retained by the University was emphasized as a significant concern of the faculty in that document. I believe a law school dean has a continuing responsibility to share accurate data regarding the law school and its operations. In the past year, I distributed the financial data I had to the faculty and the Dean’s Advisory Board in order to inform them about the increasing scope of the problem. Both bodies were concerned about the continued ability of the law school to reach its potential without sufficient funding and the inequity of charging law students increasingly high tuition and fees if a significant percentage of those funds were not directly benefitting the law school. Both the faculty and the alumni insisted that I continue in my efforts to obtain more financial data and a University agreement to decrease its retention percentage over time. I was criticized by the central administration for sharing the financial data with the faculty and my advisory board. University officials also stated that providing funding for the continued improvement of the School of Law was not a high priority for the University.
The financial data demonstrates that the amount and percentage of the law school revenue retained by the University has increased, particularly over the last two years. For the most recent academic year (AY 10-11), our tuition increase generated $1,455,650 in additional revenue. Of that amount, the School of Law budget increased by only $80,774. I do not know of any law school in the country receiving such a small percentage of its generated tuition revenue. A recent article in The New York Times noted that a 25-30% revenue retention by a university was considered high by national standards. As of academic year 2010-11, the University retained approximately 45% of the revenue generated by law tuition, fees and state subsidy. Using any reasonable calculation of the direct and indirect University costs, the University was still diverting millions of dollars in law school revenue to non-law University functions.
The unwillingness of the University to discuss in a meaningful way the growing imbalance in the financial relationship was also becoming a matter of principle to me. We have increased our in-state tuition over 70% and our out-of-state tuition over 48% in the last seven years. Our in-state day students last year paid $1,450 more in tuition and fees than University of Maryland law day students and our in-state part-time students paid $2,080 more than the University of Maryland law part-time students. Of our students in the 2010 graduating class who borrowed money, the average law school debt was over $95,000. Media reports continually criticized the rising costs of legal education. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable justifying tuition and fee increases to law students when the money was actually being used to fund non-law University initiatives. I was also concerned about my continuing effectiveness as Dean given statements by University officials that there were no plans to remedy the situation and that significant funding for School of Law programs was not a University priority.
We were inspected this last academic year and the University and I received the final report of the ABA Accreditation Committee on July 27. The report generally praised the condition of the law school but indicated a concern, among others, about the substantial amount of money the law school contributes to the University and the lack of a University explanation of a rationale by which the money retained by the University is determined. The ABA Committee requested that the University President and Dean submit a report by March 12, 2012 which provides in part a rationale for the School of Law’s share of costs for non-law school activities and central administration services and information about any agreement between the Law School and the University regarding a fair process by which the Law School’s contribution to the University for direct and indirect costs will be determined. The day after receipt of the ABA report, I was asked to resign. ...
I am grateful for my four years as Dean of the School of Law. I am pleased to say that I am leaving the school in excellent shape. Our US News ranking has jumped from 170 to 117, with another jump projected in March 2012. Our new building is on schedule to open in January of 2013. In my four years, we have hired an amazing new group of faculty members. We are teaching better, writing more, and increasing our national reputation for academic quality. We have opened a number of new Centers, highlighted by our collaboration with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the Center for Medicine and Law. Our bar passage rates are up and our student organizations are thriving. Our entering class in 2011 is our most highly qualified ever and is incredibly diverse. We offer hundreds of internships and our presence in Washington, DC is expanding. In sum, we are improving significantly in every manner by which a law school is measured. The ABA site visit team noted that they had never observed so many excellent classroom teachers, both full-time and adjunct, in one school. They also noted that they had never visited a law school in which everyone seemed so happy. I can’t think of two better compliments for a law dean.
- Dean Closius's Resignation Letter
- ABA Journal
- Above the Law
- Baltimore Business Journal
- Baltimore Sun
- Law Librarian Blog
- Leiter's Law School Reports
- Maryland Daily Record
- National Law Journal
- Wall Street Journal