TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Provost Reassures Students That Rumors Of Louisville Law School's Closing Are False

LouisvilleFollowing up on last week's post, Louisville's 5-Year Interim Dean Is Passed Over In Selection Of New Dean; Law School Fires Student Workers And RAs To Address Budget Deficit:

Insider Louisville, Interim UofL Law School Dean Removed From Consideration for Permanent Position:

Despite a reportedly strong recommendation from the search committee tasked with finding candidates for the permanent dean position at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, interim dean Susan Duncan — who has served in that role for five years — was removed as a candidate last week.

In an email to Brandeis faculty, Duncan announced that decision, in addition to broaching the subjects of student workers in the law school abruptly losing their jobs and supplies being removed from its offices due to budgetary reasons. The email set off an emergency meeting between concerned faculty and staff and interim Provost Dale Billingsley on Thursday, and then again on Friday.

According to an attendee of both meetings — in which students and faculty were allowed to ask Billingsley questions — the provost strongly implied that concerns over declining enrollment, low bar exam pass rates and imbalanced spending in recent years at the law school is why university leadership decided to remove Duncan’s name from consideration. Several students and faculty took issue with the search committee’s advice allegedly being tossed aside, as well as being blindsided by the jobs that some students depend on being taken away earlier in the week.

The source in attendance said Billingsley also reassured students that rumors about the Brandeis School closing were false, but warned that the university’s large budget shortfall would present challenges for each college at UofL to cut expenses significantly — as next year’s $48 million shortfall is projected to grow to $64 million and $83 million in the following two fiscal years.

Faced with many students and faculty questioning the decision to remove Duncan from consideration, Billingsley reportedly referred to several unresolved areas of concern for the school — beyond just declining enrollment and bar exam pass rates, which Brandeis has withstood along with other Kentucky law schools as part of a national trend. The provost also said the school was not able to bring in enough outside financial support to increase scholarship funds, instead relying on a large amount of the university’s general funds.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Education | Permalink


Louisville has created its own problems when it decided to become a social justice law school. It received a lot of bad press last year when its profs were publicly fighting in the Courier Journal. Most students want to learn the law; they don't want to be indoctrinated. In particular, Louisville created a lot of bad word of mouth when it started mandatory diversity training for students and faculty. No one wants to be forced to clap for positions they disagree with. The Dean is great on a personal level, but she didn't understand that you can't force your opinions on adults.

Louisville is losing donations from alums like me because we are fed up giving money to schools that are overtly political. The Louisville legal community is conservative and moderate, not radical leftist. We believe in education, not indoctrination.

I hope other law schools learn from Louisville's mistakes. Most students want a politically-neutral legal education. They don't just want to hear the faculty's side. (I believe that there are only two conservative profs currently at Louisville.)

This social justice approach is a secondary reason why law school applications are dropping many places. Students don't want to be taught what to think; they want to be taught to think for themselves.

Posted by: Louisville Alum | Mar 14, 2017 11:42:23 AM

Louisville is the biggest sports moneymaker among NCAA schools. Where does the money go?

Posted by: Yehiel Handlarz | Mar 14, 2017 1:27:46 PM