DePaul University announced yesterday
that it has named Gregory Mark
(Vice Dean, Professor of Law and Justice Nathan L. Jacobs Scholar, Rutgers-Newark) as its new Dean. Although Dean Mark certainly has an impressive record
, his selection continues the administration's assault on the College of Law and its faculty, beginning with the abrupt firing
of Dean Glen Weissenberger
in June 2009 and selection
of state court judge Warren D. Wolfson
as Interim Dean, without any consultation with the faculty (see collection of links here
DePaul Provost Helmut Epp repeatedly assured the faculty over the past two years that he would honor its wishes in the selection of a permanent Dean. The dean search committee presented four finalists to the faculty, and the faculty voted two of the candidates as acceptable: Dean Mark and current DePaul Associate Dean Brian F. Havel. The faculty then voted 35-4 in favor of the universally respected and admired Associate Dean Havel, who is ideally situated to heal the rift between the administration and law school.
The timing of the announcement of Dean Mark's appointment three days before Christmas, when most faculty and students are away from the law school, appears designed to quell protest of the decision and to make the appointment a fait accompli when classes resume Jan. 10. The DePaul administration's actions are especially disheartening for a Catholic university, dedicated to the Vincentian ideal of loving God through serving others: "the DePaul community is above all characterized by ennobling the God-given dignity of each person."
The DePaul administration's actions continue to be far from ennobling. They certainly vindicate Dean Weissenberger, who was fired for fighting to defend the interests of the law school and its faculty despite the enormous strides the school had made under his leadership.
Brian Leiter (Chicago) warned back in June 2009 that Provost Epp "will destroy the College of Law if not stopped. Where is the University President? Where is the Board of Trustees? In nearly twenty years in legal academia, I have never seen a law school mistreated like this by a university central administration."
With the situation now even worse than it was back in 2009, one hopes that the faculty and other constituencies that love the law school will rise up and convince the board of trustees, ABA, AALS, or others to intervene before the destruction of the law school is completed. Given the hefty salaries earned by the university president ($565,057 in 2008) and provost ($420,769 in 2008), it surely is not too much to ask for them to swallow their pride and live out the mission of the university,
I am told that several of DePaul's best faculty are holding lateral offers from other law schools and are awaiting the outcome of the dean search before deciding whether to leave DePaul. If the administration's decision stands, a mass faculty exodus undoubtedly will ensue over the coming years.
Given his outstanding record, Dean Mark undoubtedly could have his pick among many outstanding deanships. He presumably did not know the full facts about the situation at DePaul before accepting the deanship. Now that several faculty have provided him with more information, he hopefully will work with the administration and faculty to find a solution.
(Disclosures: Although Glen Weissenberger is my former colleague on the Cincinnati faculty and Brian Havel blogs as part of our Law Professor Blogs Network, I received the information contained in this post from several other members of the DePaul faculty and community. I reached out to Dean Mark by email at 5:15 p.m. yesterday to get his perspective on the situation, but have not yet heard back from him.)