Thursday, December 11, 2008
Duquesne Dean Don Guter, given 24 hours to resign or be fired, has opted to step down after only three years in his deanship. Guter, a 1977 graduate of the school, is a retired Rear Admiral, Judge Advocate General, and former top lawyer for the U.S. Navy. Con Law Prof Ken Gormley has been named interim dean. Press reports say that Dean Guter blames "a personal feud with university President Charles Doughtery" stemming from a tenure battle:
During Mr. Guter's tenure, the law school has seen gains in a number of indicators including its bar-passage rate, which rose to 97% from 68%. But there have also been tensions between the law school and university President Charles Dougherty, including the president's initial refusal to grant tenure to professor John Rago despite a favorable faculty vote and backing of the dean. The president's refusal sparked a student protest before Dr. Dougherty reversed course and granted Mr. Rago tenure.
For TaxProf Blog's coverage of Professor Rago's tenure battle, see here and here.
In justifying the firing, a university spokesperson claimed "we need to improve the level of scholarship at the law school." (Duquesne ranked among the bottom 25 law schools in the most recent study of per capita productivity of articles in top journals by faculty at non-Top 50 law schools.)
Update: From Dean Guter's 2-page letter to President Dougherty:
During my short tenure as Dean, we have enjoyed record bar pass rates that rose from 68% at my arrival to 88%, 91% and 97% in my three years. These are our highest rates in at least 25 years and rank us second in the state. ... Our relationship with alumni has never been stronger and giving is robust. Perhaps most importantly, I brought surcease to a divided and angry faculty and high morale to our students, all in consistent support for the University's mission statement.
I need not go on because you know all of these things and many more. I chronicle them only to rnake the point that under these circumstances, it would be dishonest, disingenuous, unbelievable to the public, and most importantly unethical for me to abruptly resign in the middle of the school year and in the middle of exams no less, by accepting your invitation to manufacture an excuse to cover-up what is obviously and unprofessionally your personal animus toward me despite my attempt this last Easter season to seek reconciliation with you through Fr. Fogarty. You rebuffed my attempts in a most un-Catholic manner which I am told by a Spiritan is "the one unforgivable sin."