Vermont Law School Press Release, Vermont Law School Dean To Step Down, Board of Directors Cites Accomplishments:
Today, the Board of Trustees of Vermont Law School and its President and Dean, Thomas McHenry, jointly announce his decision not to seek renewal for another term and that he will step down at the end of June 2021. “The Board of Trustees is grateful for all that Tom has accomplished for the School and the intensity of his commitment to the success of VLS,” said Glenn Berger, Chairman of the Board. McHenry will continue to lead the School while the Board immediately commences a search for his successor.
Valley News, Vermont Law School President to Serve One Term:
McHenry’s tenure has coincided with one of the most difficult periods in VLS’ 48-year history as it, like law schools everywhere, has had to grapple with a national downturn in enrollment and rising costs. VLS, with a minimal endowment, is largely dependent upon tuition and grant funding to meet its approximately $23 million operating budget.
That led McHenry, only 12 months into the job in 2018, to revoke tenure of 14 out of 19 senior professors, who instead were offered short-term contracts. McHenry said the moves were necessary to close a $1 million budget gap. After severance payments, the move was projected to save $2 million annually in the coming years, McHenry told the Valley News.
A Washington-based faculty advocacy organization, the American Association of University Professors, dispatched staff to the Upper Valley in 2018 to investigate whether VLS had violated the principles by which it is required to have faculty input on major decisions as called for under the bylaws of the Association of American Law Schools.
The investigation divided the faculty, with some attesting that the claims were unfounded and that McHenry had consulted with faculty members individually on the pending structural changes. Nonetheless, the AAUP issued a 17-page report last year that criticized VLS for violating its “shared governance” policy.
The trustees on Friday credited McHenry with stabilizing the school. “Since his appointment ... McHenry has directed and overseen a variety of measures that have made Vermont Law School financially stronger and enhanced its educational programs. At the board’s instruction, McHenry has achieved budget surpluses while increasing employee benefits and maintaining the nationally recognized environmental program,” VLS said in the news release.