Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 25, 2013

GW Law Faculty Launched 'Near Coup' to Oust Dean Paul Berman

BermanThe George Washington Hatchet, Law Faculty Plotted to Oust Dean:

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 programs.

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.

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Tagging onto the Oscars, I saw the law school faculty in a Humphrey Bogart movie the other night, with them celebrating their victory over the dean, but with the prosecuting attorney letting them know who was really guilty. -- The Caine Mutiny (1954)

[Greenwald staggers into the Caine crew's party, inebriated]
Lt. Barney Greenwald: Well, well, well! The officers of the Caine in happy celebration!
Lt. Steve Maryk: What are you, Barney, kind of tight?
Lt. Barney Greenwald: Sure. I got a guilty conscience. I defended you, Steve, because I found the wrong man was on trial.
[pours himself a glass of wine]
Lt. Barney Greenwald: So, I torpedoed Queeg for you. I *had* to torpedo him. And I feel sick about it.
[drinks wine]
Lt. Steve Maryk: Okay, Barney, take it easy.
Lt. Barney Greenwald: You know something... When I was studying law, and Mr. Keefer here was writing his stories, and you, Willie, were tearing up the playing fields of dear old Princeton, who was standing guard over this fat, dumb, happy country of ours, eh? Not us. Oh, no, we knew you couldn't make any money in the service. So who did the dirty work for us? Queeg did! And a lot of other guys. Tough, sharp guys who didn't crack up like Queeg.
Ensign Willie Keith: But no matter what, Captain Queeg endangered the ship and the lives of the men.
Lt. Barney Greenwald: He didn't endanger anybody's life, you did, *all* of you! You're a fine bunch of officers.
Lt. JG H. Paynter Jr.: You said yourself he cracked.
Lt. Barney Greenwald: I'm glad you brought that up, Mr. Paynter, because that's a very pretty point. You know, I left out one detail in the court martial. It wouldn't have helped our case any.
[to Maryk]
Lt. Barney Greenwald: Tell me, Steve, after the Yellowstain business, Queeg came to you guys for help and you turned him down, didn't you?
Lt. Steve Maryk: [hesitant] Yes, we did.
Lt. Barney Greenwald: [to Paynter] You didn't approve of his conduct as an officer. He wasn't worthy of your loyalty. So you turned on him. You ragged him. You made up songs about him. If you'd given Queeg the loyalty he needed, do you suppose the whole issue would have come up in the typhoon?
[to Maryk]
Lt. Barney Greenwald: You're an honest man, Steve, I'm asking you. You think it would've been necessary for you to take over?
Lt. Steve Maryk: [hesitant] It probably wouldn't have been necessary.
Lt. Barney Greenwald: [muttering slightly] Yeah.
Ensign Willie Keith: If that's true, then we *were* guilty.
Lt. Barney Greenwald: Ah, you're learning, Willie! You're learning that you don't work with a captain because you like the way he parts his hair. You work with him because he's got the job or you're no good! Well, the case is over. You're all safe. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Posted by: Woody | Feb 25, 2013 5:30:48 PM

This is going to be a *very* useful illustration of how law schools are *really* governed when it comes time to assign financial and criminal liability for the multi-decade fraud involved in the compilation and publication of law school graduate "employment" statistics.

The professoriate has profited grotesquely from its stage-managed deceits - it is shortly to bleed profusely in repayment of them.

Posted by: cas127 | Feb 26, 2013 5:00:59 PM