Paul L. Caron

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Florida Dean Search Fails

Florida Logo (GIF)Gainesville Sun:  Machen Ends Law School Dean Search, Recommends Interim Instead:

The search for a new dean for the University of Florida Levin College of Law has failed.

UF President Bernie Machen said in a letter to law faculty and staff Friday afternoon that he has decided to end the search for outgoing Dean Robert Jerry’s successor for this academic year.

“The final slate forwarded to the Provost and to me included accomplished candidates, but we did not find one ideally suited to lead the College through a decade that will be simultaneously challenging for the profession and replete with opportunities for growth and advancement,” Machen said.

After paying $90,000 for an executive search company out of Southern California to conduct a nationwide search for suitable candidates, the search committee narrowed a list of 24 recommended candidates to four finalists.

Those four were Alex Acosta, dean of the Florida International University College of Law; David Brennen, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Law; David Huebner, former ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa; and Sam Donaldson, a law professor at Georgia State University and former associate dean at the University of Washington School of Law. ...

The committee debated whether to send all four candidates forward, considering that the law faculty had overwhelmingly rejected Acosta, the law dean at FIU.

Even after being told that not sending all four names forward could result in a failed search, the committee voted 9-2 to reject Acosta and send the other three names to Machen and Provost Joe Glover for consideration. Brennen and Huebner had received high scores from faculty, while many felt Donaldson lacked gravitas.

In the meantime, Machen is recommending that George Dawson, a former associate law dean who served on the search committee, serve as interim dean until a new search can be conducted next year.

(Hat Tip:  Brian Leiter.)  Prior coverage:

Update:  Jeffrey Harrison (Florida) has more here:

At best, a shameful process. At worst a sham. If you think a 49th ranking was unsatisfactory, fasten your seat belt and put on a helmet.

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I'll do it for 250,000 and free tickets.

Posted by: michael livingston | Mar 17, 2014 8:48:04 PM

TS, in large party, yes. I think there was also reaction to the possibility that the process seemed designed to makes sure he would be a finalist. And, there was also a feeling that the challenges at FIU were completely different than those at UF.

Posted by: Jeff Harrison | Mar 17, 2014 3:06:51 PM

a few more details:

Posted by: Jeff Harrison | Mar 17, 2014 8:00:45 AM

What was the reason for the dislike of Acosta? Was this more lib lawprof angst about having a Republican dean?

Posted by: TS | Mar 17, 2014 6:41:05 AM