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

Friday, June 09, 2006

Letter from the VP of the Alumni Board

I received this from the VP of the Alumni Board today and he asked me to post it for our readers:

9 June 2006

Dear Friends:

I make bold to write this letter today and disseminate it via the blogosphere (since there is nowhere else to disseminate it) to speak for myself and my perceptions of the current goings on at the law school. I thank our fellow alums at Fumare for allowing me this forum. By my comments, I do not intend to speak for anyone else on the Board, but I offer my reflections on several recent events that may be of interest to our constituents.

Last Tuesday evening, the Alumni Board met for their monthly meeting. It was during this meeting that Mr. Chris McGowan resigned as Chairman of the Development Committtee. The Development Committtee (like the Admissions Committee) is a standing committee of the alumni association board. He indicated his reasons for resigning in a well written letter addressed to our President, Mr. Jason Negri. In light of this resignation, there currently are no alumni members of the Alumni Board on this standing committee. Rather, Mr. Dave Kelley is currently the only member of this committee. Furthermore, the Board did not consider a replacement for Mr. McGowan at this time.

I understand and am in accord with Mr. McGowan's sentiments for resigning. I indicated on the record at Tuesday's meeting, that under the circumstances, I concur with Mr. McGowan's reasons for not supporting the current giving campaign. Thus, I cannot encourage others to do what I myself will not. I am fairly confident that this view is shared by other members of the Alumni Board. Thus, when a solicitation letter was presented to us for our approval, my impression was that those members in attendance--as indicated by their silence--were very uncomfortable about having our names and offices signed to it. I then proposed that the letter come from the Development Committee, knowing full well that there were no alumni members on said committee. I think that this information is crucial to our position and needs to be disseminated to all alumni. In a subsequent conversation with an Alumni Board member who was not in attendance at the meeting for this discussion, he indicated to me that he was upset that it came from our association at all. He thought that it should have come from the Development Office only. I couldn't agree more, and in retrospect should have taken a harder line. However, the suggestion that I offered to the Board as to the signature block was voted on and approved by the Board. I am not aware of any alumni member of the Alumni Board, however who is very excited about this campaign under the current circumstances. Those that are may make their views known, and if I unfairly include them by implication, I apologize.

Furthermore, I noted that there was mention made in the solicitation letter of the class gift of the class of 2006, to wit, the John Paul II Scholarship. The way the letter described the scholarship, it seemed exactly the same as the already established John Paul II Leadership Award and Scholarship (the one established by Matthew Boever, Vilius Lapas, Chris McGowan and Mark Rohlena). The explanation given to me by the Director of Development, was that the distinguishing feature was that one was a scholarship and the other was a commencement award. I have no reason to doubt the good word of Mr. Dave Kelley, our Development Director. He has been a wonderful man to work with and has done wonderful things for our law school. Unfortunately, this distinction seemed lacking to me. Two John Paul II Scholarships? The "likelihood of confusion" is rather significant. Although this was what I took to be the official explanation, the timing of it is also curious. On May 18, 2006, the founders and funders of the original scholarship, in a letter to the Board of Governors, suspended the scholarship indefinitely due to the unfortunate circumstances at the law school. I will take Mr. Kelley at his word that the distinction given is adequate and understood, but nevertheless--to my mind--it is very confusing that such a situation would normally be allowed to exist without some further distinguishing feature.

My intent in writing this letter is not to discourage or encourage alumni to contribute to the law school in any way. This is a decision that is best left to individual alums to make on their own and according to their own means. I thought that these were significant issues that needed clarification. Communication on these issues has been lacking and we are trying to find a better means of sending forth information from the Alumni Board. A website will be forthcoming where we will post minutes and board actions and be a repository for our work. It will not be a place for editorial comment. I do encourage all to pray for the law school through Our Lady Seat of Wisdom that the current tumult may be resolved.

In Our Lord,

John M. DeJak '04
Vice President, Ave Maria School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors