Faculty say they launched a near coup to remove the former dean of the GW Law School, who unexpectedly announced last fall he would resign after holding the position for just 18 months.
Paul Schiff Berman stepped down in January and moved to a new vice provost position after professors drafted a petition to reject his leadership, citing staff tensions and poor decision-making about how to restore a reeling legal education system, The Hatchet has learned.
Professors said they could have held the first successful vote of no confidence in GW history. But University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman plucked him out of the No. 20-ranked law school before a formal vote could take place, according to interviews with more than a half dozen professors who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The accounts of the law school friction reveal a different story than
the one initially told when Berman stepped down from one of GW’s top
Professors described a fall semester of private email chains and contentious meetings about Berman’s intense leadership style.
“I kept thinking of that old proverb, ‘If you go after the king, you
better make sure you take the king out,’ ” one full-time law professor
said. “We didn’t take the king out, but the king took himself out.”
Faculty presented a 17-page document to the former dean which
outlined, corroborated and footnoted complaints during Berman’s tenure.
About a dozen professors contributed to the document created in
mid-October and viewed by The Hatchet.
Some of the most senior professors campaigned against Berman,
resenting him for allegedly subverting faculty governance rules and
verbally mistreating staff.