Paul L. Caron

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Turmoil in Oregon Dean Search

Oregon_1The University of Oregon student newspaper has an interesting article on the turmoil surrounding the law school's dean search:  Controversy Besets Dean Search:

Two University Law School faculty members are preparing to take unexpected leaves of absence next year as a result of the University’s fruitless search for a new Law School dean, interim Law School dean Margie Paris told law students and faculty at a townhall-style meeting Monday. Law professors Keith Aoki and Steven Bender are planning to take sabbaticals to “ponder where to take our work where it is appreciated as we heal from these latest wounds to friends,” Bender wrote in an e-mail circulated among University employees. Paris said they both plan on returning after no more than a year away.

Controversy has embroiled the Law School faculty after the University failed to hire Kevin Johnson, the current associate dean for academic affairs at the University of California-Davis. Johnson withdrew from the search after the two other candidates accepted offers elsewhere....

Faculty at the Law School say Johnson was treated differently than the other candidates and question if race played a role in the University’s decision, while University administrators have remained relatively tight-lipped on the issue, saying only that the search process is complex, had nothing to do with race and that they were very disappointed with its outcome.

The University began its search for a new dean in April 2005 and named three finalists early in the 2005-06 school year — Hiram Chodosh, currently the associate dean for academic affairs at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law , Gail Agrawal, currently the interim dean of the University of North Carolina Law School, and Johnson.

The University first offered the post to Agrawal on January 19, but she accepted an offer at the University of Kansas. The University then asked Chodosh on February 13, but he accepted an offer at the University of Utah.

Paris said the Law School faculty expected an offer to be made to Johnson after the first two candidates accepted offers elsewhere, but instead of a job offer, the University called Johnson back for further interviews, unlike the other candidates.

(Hat Tip:  JD2B.)

Disclosure:  Kevin Johnson is co-editor of our ImmigrationProf Blog.


The search for a new Law School dean is proving to be a time-consuming and embarrassing task for the University. Although three candidates were chosen early this school year, two of those finalists declined the position in lieu of offers from other U.S. colleges. Kevin Johnson, associate dean for academic affairs at the University of California-Davis, then became the sole candidate, but the University did not immediately extend him an offer. Administrators asked him to return for further interviews, which has stirred up allegations of racist hiring practices because Johnson is Latino....

Administrators have stated that race did not play a part in the dean search process, but they have yet to publicly offer an explanation for why Johnson was the only one of the three finalists asked to undergo follow-up interviews....

The oddity of the search continued when the University eventually extended an offer to Johnson only after he had already withdrawn from the search. Johnson himself has not cleared up what went wrong, but he has told the Emerald that he is “glad that chapter in my life is behind me.”

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