Following up on yesterday's post, Tony Varona Takes The High Road In His Farewell Message After Being Fired Less Than 2 Years Into His Deanship: Miami Herald, Frenk Appoints Acting UM Law Dean, As Faculty Demands Investigation Into Varona’s Firing:
More than a month after abruptly firing Anthony Varona as dean of the law school, sparking outrage in the Miami and national legal communities, University of Miami President Julio Frenk on Wednesday appointed law professor Stephen J. Schnably as acting dean effective Thursday, while the search for an interim dean continues and the calls for a thorough investigation into Varona’s termination persist. ...
Schnably will remain as acting dean until the start of the fall semester in August, said Jackie Menendez, UM’s vice president of communication. By then, the law school plans to have an interim dean in place, likely for a term of one to two years. ...
Stephen Urice, a law professor at UM since 2006, said he and his colleagues support Schnably’s temporary promotion, but haven’t forgotten about Varona’s ousting. “Professor Schnably is highly respected, and I expect the faculty will fully support him,” he said. “I expect the faculty also will continue to demand a forthright and complete explanation for President Frenk’s termination of Dean Varona’s decanal appointment.” ...
The Wednesday announcement followed a series of meetings, some contentious, that Frenk, Provost Jeffrey Duerk, and key members of the UM Board of Trustees, including newly installed board chairwoman Laurie Silvers, held with faculty and alumni over the past few weeks.
Some of those conversations partly led to Schnably’s appointment, sources told the Herald.
Sources also said the faculty delegation of tenured professors repeatedly asked the administration to tap a respected academic in the legal community to be the next interim dean. They vetoed, among other potential candidates, Duerk, who’s an accomplished engineer and scientist but not a law school academic, and members of the Board of Trustees, who the faculty contends do not meet the requirements set forth by the Association for American Law Schools. As part of the AALS bylaws, “The faculty shall have meaningful involvement in the selection of the dean or interim dean.”
Last week, UM law professor Mary Anne Franks resigned from the faculty delegation. “I agreed to serve on the delegation in order to push for Dean Varona’s reinstatement and to obtain assurances that the administration respects the values fundamental to an institution of higher learning: courage, integrity, and accountability. When those assurances were not forthcoming, I decided to resign from the delegation,” Franks wrote in an email Wednesday to the Herald. ...
Donna Kay Coker, who has been professor at the UM law school for more than 25 years, said Schnably “is an excellent choice for an acting dean.” “I have nothing but great things to say about that choice,” she said.
But, she noted, the faculty still hasn’t received a “satisfactory explanation” for Varona’s removal. “We still don’t have answers to fundamental questions that we’ve raised with the administration,” she said, “and those questions are how did this decision come about, were members of the Board of Trustees involved, did the president receive pressure from a member or multiple members of the Board of Trustees to make this decision, and why did the president link the decision in his letter to the capital campaign when Dean Varona had done a quite remarkable job of fundraising during a time of a pandemic.”
The Miami Hurricane, Fired Law School Dean to Remain at UM as Tenured Faculty
TaxProf Blog coverage:
- University Of Miami President Fires Tony Varona After Less Than Two Years As Dean; Tenured Faculty Protests Decision; Varona's Lawyer Says He Will Contest The Firing (May 26, 2021)
- Outrage Grows Over Firing Of Tony Verona After Less Than Two Years As Miami Dean. Did Minor Declines In U.S. News Ranking And Bar Passage Rate Play A Role? (May 27, 2021)
- More Fallout Over Miami Dean's Firing: Faculty Senate Unanimously Urges Reinstatement; Vice-Dean Resigns; University Agrees To Meet With Faculty; Dean Claims President Defamed Him (May 28, 2021)
- Miami Law Alumni Slam Firing Of Dean; AALS Section Demands Investigation To Determine Whether Tony Varona Was Targeted Due To His Gay And Hispanic Status (May 29, 2021)
- University Of Miami Faculty Senate Unanimously Condemns Firing Of Dean Tony Varona And Urges His Reinstatement (May 30, 2021)
- SALT Calls For Review Of Dismissal Of University Of Miami Law Dean Tony Varona, 'UM’s First Latinx And Openly Gay Dean' (May 31, 2021)
- Was This Law Dean Fired Because He's Gay? His Supporters Want Answers (June 2, 2021)
- University Of Miami President Doubles Down On Decision To Fire Tony Varona After Less Than Two Years As Dean (June 5, 2021)
- Miami Searches For Interim Dean After Controversial Firing Of Tony Varona, Who Sought To Reduce Overhead Tax Law School Pays To University (June 14, 2021)
- Tony Varona Takes The High Road In His Farewell Message After Being Fired Less Than 2 Years Into His Deanship (June 30, 2021)
- University Of Miami Appoints Acting Law School Dean; Faculty Demands Investigation Into Firing Of Tony Varona (July 1, 2021)
- Sixteen Miami Faculty Demand Answers To Questions Surrounding Firing Of Dean Tony Varona (July 6, 2021)
- Miami Law Community Seeks Answers On Firing Of Tony Varona As Acting Dean Takes Over (July 11, 2021)