Paul L. Caron

Friday, December 26, 2008

NY Times on Abrupt Firing of Duquesne Law Dean

The New York Times picks up the story (previously blogged here and here) of the abrupt firing of Duquesne's dean: Dean’s Firing Draws Protest at Duquesne Law School, by Sean D. Hamill:

The root of the tension between the two men, many at the university say, was [President] Dougherty’s desire to centralize the administration when he came to Duquesne in 2001, making sure that all major decisions and communication came through his office. Dr. Dougherty’s efforts included emphasizing a longstanding practice that none of the university’s deans could have any contact with board members — which Dr. Pearson told [Dean] Guter he had run afoul of when he sent postcards to the Duquesne community announcing a law professor’s new book, further straining his relationship with Dr. Dougherty.

The most difficult dispute — which many believe set the tone for everything thereafter — came during Mr. Guter’s first year, when Prof. John T. Rago sought tenure. The faculty and Mr. Guter approved of tenure, but Dr. Dougherty opposed it. “The president wanted me to align my stance with his, but I said I’d stand with Rago,” Mr. Guter recalled. “He wasn’t happy.” ...

Bruce Ledewitz, a professor at the school since 1980 who said he was not an early fan of Mr. Guter’s, said it was obvious that Mr. Guter simply “didn’t toe the president’s line.” Reading from a list of improvements he keeps on his desk, Professor Ledewitz said: “Bar scores are up. The moot court team won national titles. Alumni giving is up. The research and writing program was nationally ranked. Faculty scholarship is up. If you have a list like this, it isn’t rocket science; he’s good at what he does.”

But on a faculty that has long been broken into factions, not everyone sees it that way. “I’m relieved to see the change that has come to the law school,” said Robert S. Barker, a professor at the school for 26 years. “The folks under Guter have driven away two faculty members, marginalized another, and done serious damage to the academic programs, particularly for international students.”

Interestingly, the NY Times does not mention the U.S. News angle to the story.  (Hat Tip: Ann Murphy, Lee Sims, and Sarah Waldeck.)

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