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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reflections on AMSOL's Commencement

Yesterday, I attended Ave Maria School of Law's Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2006. I think it is fitting to post my reflections and also to offer my congratulations to the Class of 2006.

Despite the recent turmoil at the Law School, the Commencement proceeded without incident. It obviously was a joyous occasion for the graduates and their family and friends and I commend the Class of 2006 for their accomplishments. I was nevertheless struck (and saddened) as I considered that the school which was conferring these law degrees remains bitterly divided.

Dean Dobranski, who presided over the Commencement, sat on the stage in the front row. A few seats away was Mr. Monaghan. In the rows behind, sat the faculty. Though close in proximity, these professors' recent vote of "no confidence" in Dean Dobranski, makes it clear that they are quite far from Dobranski and Monaghan in terms of vision for the school.

Seated in front of the stage was the Class of 2006. Many of these students had their final weeks of law school marred by the feasibility study into moving the school and by the low ranking in the U.S. News and World Report. Many (perhaps most) of the students remain angry with the current leadership of Dean Dobranski, Monaghan, and the Board of Governors.

Jason Negri, President of the Alumni Association, which voted "no confidence" in Dean Dobranski, was also present. As part of the Commencement program, Negri was invited by the Dean to the stage to lead the new alumni in praying the Alumni prayer. Again, the image of the school's bitter divide was striking (to those aware of the recent events) as the two shook hands at center stage.

Lastly, I presume I was not the only one that felt a little awkward when Mr. Monaghan took the podium and addressed the graduates.

I do not intend this post to present an argument either for or against the move to Florida (though I strongly oppose such a move). Instead, I simply wanted to present my thoughts and feelings regarding yesterday's Commencement. Put simply, it was an unusual experience. Joy mixed with sorrow.

Unfortunately, the thought that kept returning to me yesterday was this. A house divided against itself cannot stand.