Paul L. Caron

Saturday, June 5, 2021

University Of Miami President Doubles Down On Decision To Fire Tony Varona After Less Than Two Years As Dean

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Miami Herald, UM Dean’s Lawyer Says Firing Will Harm Law School; Frenk to Work With Faculty in Dean Search:

VaronaMeeting with tenured law school faculty after abruptly firing the law school dean last week, University of Miami President Julio Frenk doubled down on his decision to dismiss Anthony Varona after less than two years on the job, much of that time during the pandemic when schools have been struggling.

Frenk, who met with the professors Wednesday night, did not provide a detailed explanation for removing Varona, saying he didn’t find that appropriate, according to sources who attended the meeting over Zoom.

Rather, he told the group that the dean reports to him and he has the power to remove him, the sources said. ...

Frenk, who was named UM president in 2015, didn’t apologize for not consulting faculty regarding Varona’s termination, a procedure stipulated in the university’s faculty manual. He did say, however, he would stay in touch with the professors as he makes future decisions.

“As he shared with tenured faculty at the law school last night, President Frenk is committed to consultation as we proceed with next steps,” UM spokeswoman Megan Ondrizek said in an email Thursday. ...

Frenk did not specify reasons for the termination, only alluding to problems with fundraising. A decline in the law school’s national rankings and low passage rates for the Florida Bar exam might have contributed. ...

Debra Katz, Varona’s lawyer, emailed a written statement to the Herald on Friday. “The President continues to ignore outrage from those who know Dean Varona’s contributions to the law school, and has doubled down on a decision that is clearly harmful to the law school,” the statement reads.

“This firing is a blatant violation of Dean Varona’s legal rights, and the President has yet to answer the most basic questions — why has he chosen to oust Dean Varona now, why does he keep changing the reasons for this rash and clearly unlawful firing, and what role did the trustees play in firing Dean Varona?” ...

Moving forward, some faculty members told the Herald they fear the law school’s negative press could affect the school’s ranking and accreditation.

U.S. News & World Report, which ranks law schools across the country, issues surveys to the legal community, including faculty, judges and lawyers, as part of its rankings. Any negative comments could factor in future rankings.

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