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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ex-Cincinnati Law Dean Challenges Her Removal: 'Faculty Unwilling To Put Student Needs Ahead Of Their Own' Is Not Adequate Ground. But Is There More To The Story?

UC BardAmerican Lawyer, Fired (And Lawyered) Up:

Two weeks ago, we told you about the former dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, who was removed from her position, she says, for doing exactly what she was brought on to do: cut spending. At the time, Jennifer Bard made that claim in the press herself, but now she's hired a lawyer, Marjorie Berman of New York firm Krantz & Berman, to do the talking. Berman said the university violated its own internal rules when it pushed Bard out of the dean job on March 22 and placed her on leave while it investigates her leadership of the law school. "The interim provost placed Dean Bard on administrative leave without the slightest factual basis for doing so,” said Marjorie Berman, an attorney with New York firm Krantz & Berman. “Administrative leave implies conduct requiring an immediate separation, that the university well knows does not exist here. Faculty unwilling to put the needs of the students and the law school ahead of their own does not constitute such conduct.” University spokesman Greg Vehr did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

National Law Journal, Ex-Cincinnati Law Dean Claims Her Removal Was Improper:

The former dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Law says she was improperly removed from that position two weeks ago and placed on administrative leave after clashing with some faculty over proposed budget cuts.

An attorney representing Jennifer Bard said that the university violated its own internal rules when it pushed her out of the dean job on March 22 and placed her on leave while it investigates her leadership of the law school. “The interim provost placed Dean Bard on administrative leave without the slightest factual basis for doing so,” said Marjorie Berman, an attorney with New York firm Krantz & Berman. “Administrative leave implies conduct requiring an immediate separation, that the university well knows does not exist here. Faculty unwilling to put the needs of the students and the law school ahead of their own does not constitute such conduct.” ...

Bard claims that her cost-cutting efforts spurred the faculty mutiny. She said she was hired in 2015 specifically to mitigate the law school’s “multimillion” operating deficit, and that her ideas of combining the law library with the university’s central library system and bolstering oversight of faculty travel proved unpopular with some professors.

“Not surprisingly, a small group of the law school faculty — who stood to be negatively impacted by the routine financial procedures that Dean Bard supported — pushed back intensely,” Berman said. “They took advantage of the change in leadership to the interim provost who had just taken on the appointment from his prior position as the dean of the College-Conservatory of Music. Unfortunately, the interim provost bowed to the pressure of the small group and shut down the voice of sound financial management.”

The University of Cincinnati’s administrative leave policy states that employees may be placed on leave when they are the targets of misconduct allegations, and when their removal from campus maintains the “health, safety or welfare” of employees and students during an investigation.

Bard claims that her situation does not meet that standard.

Bard’s removal stands in contrast to other law deans who have been abruptly removed in recent years — most of those cases involved allegations of sexual misconduct. Deans at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law; Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law; and Case Western Reserve University School of Law each departed amid sex scandals during the past four years.

Perhaps the closest parallel to Bard’s situation was Annette Clark’s decision to resign the deanship of Saint Louis University School of Law after a year, following numerous clashes with the university’s president over major law school decisions. Clark, now dean at Seattle University School of Law, said publicly that she learned only three days before it was made public that St. Louis university leaders had agreed to relocate the law school campus.

To be sure, many law deans have battled with central university administrators or their own law faculties over a variety of issues, but they are rarely forced out mid-semester, as Bard was.

Cincinnati Enquirer, UC Names Interim Leader For Law School:

The University of Cincinnati has named professor Verna Williams as the interim leader of the College of Law while dean Jennifer Bard is on administrative leave.

Provost Peter Landgren announced Williams, who's also co-director of the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice, as the special assistant to the provost for the law school in an email Tuesday to the law school community.

 

Update: Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee):

If the provost in fact removed her simply because faculty complained about the budget cuts she was hired to implement, then that was a stupid move. I still kinda doubt that’s all there is to this story, though, because, well, that would be a stupid move. And while provosts make stupid moves all the time, they don’t usually make this kind of stupid move.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/04/ex-cincinnati-law-dean-claims-her-removal-was-improper-faculty-unwilling-to-put-student-needs-ahead-.html

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Comments

Student needs meaning whatever the adm. says that they are.

Posted by: mike livingston | Apr 5, 2017 8:05:00 PM

Interesting how Jennifer Bard was terminated immediately without due process, while a Minnesota Law prof indicted for fraud gets to keep his job, for now. Hard to reconcile.

Posted by: Richard Gershon | Apr 5, 2017 8:53:04 PM

There's no entitlement to being a dean, it's completely different

Posted by: mike livingston | Apr 6, 2017 11:05:40 PM

Richard, do you really not know the difference? She's still a member of the faculty.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 7, 2017 6:32:13 AM