TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Florida A&M University Fires Four Deans, Including Law School Dean After Only Sixteen Months On Job

EppsOrlando Sentinel, FAMU Law School Dean Dismissed After 16 Months on Job:

Florida A&M University’s law school dean is out after 16 months on the job.

FAMU announced Angela Felecia Epps’ dismissal as leader of the downtown Orlando school this week.

She is the fourth dean to be removed in two days at the Tallahassee-based university that’s undergone major leadership changes. The deans of the education, pharmacy and journalism schools also were dismissed, according to a school statement this week. ...

LeRoy Pernell, who led the Orlando law school from 2008 to 2015, was named as the temporary law school dean.

Epps, a former law professor at the University of Arkansas, took over as FAMU law school dean on Jan. 4, 2016, at a starting annual salary of $252,000. Epps was hired at a particularly turbulent time at the school, as FAMU trustees feuded with President Elmira Mangum, who eventually stepped down in September 2016. ...

Last month, the latest bar passage results were released that showed FAMU’s law school dipped by 11 percentage points from a year earlier. Epps said in an email to faculty the students’ scores were within 10 percentage points of the state average, which meant FAMU was in compliance with the American Bar Association standards.

National Law Journal, Another Struggling Law School, Another Dean Ousted:

This is the second time in as many months that a law dean was abruptly removed—a fairly unusual event within the legal academy. Law deans occasionally clash with their faculties, alumni, or central university administrators, but they typically orchestrate face-saving exits that cite personal reasons or a desire to return to teaching.

Former University of Cincinnati College of Law Dean Jennifer Bard was removed from her position in March after months of disagreements with some faculty members over proposed budgets cuts that were intended to close the school’s operating deficit. Bard last month sued the university for breach of contract violations and First Amendment violations, seeking a reinstatement as dean.

Cincinnati is ranked No. 72 by U.S. News & World Report, while Florida A&M is in its unranked second tier.

There are several similarities between Epps’ and Bard’s ousters. Both women had been in the dean position for less than two years, and both were external hires. Bard came from Texas Tech University School of Law, while Epps had been a longtime faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

Both women were also removed by the interim provosts who replaced the central administrators who hired them. Bard’s lawsuit alleges that she received much more support from former Cincinnati Provost Beverly Davenport than from Interim Provost Peter Landgren, who dismissed her as dean on March 22 and placed her on administrative leave.

Epps was hired by former Florida A&M Provost Marcella David, who was dismissed herself in September and whom Wright replaced on an interim basis. David is now on the law school faculty.

American Lawyer Morning Minute, Dean Drain:

As far as job stability goes, the position of law school dean now ranks somewhere near "losing NFL coach" and "drummer for Spinal Tap." The leadership of Florida A&M University on Tuesday removed Angela Felecia Epps as dean of its law school—part of a larger purge that included the deans of its journalism, pharmaceutical and education programs.

 (Hat Tip: Eric Chiappinelli.)

Legal Education | Permalink