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

Friday, August 18, 2006

Is opposition to the move to Florida unreasonable?

Let me propose a question to those supporting the move to Florida and the Dean's actions. And let's take away the rhetoric, and get down to the facts.

It is undisputed that the current controversy at Ave Maria School of Law is dramatically hurting the school, alienating faculty, alumni, and current and prospective students. The source of the controversy is Mr. Tom Monaghan's plan to move AMSoL to Florida. He thinks that he is acting in the best interests of the school. Fair enough. Those supporting Mr. Monaghan say that since he is the main donor and/or founder of the school, he can move it if he wants. Fair enough.

Certain faculty, students, and alumni have voiced concerns to the Board of Governors about the move to Florida. They believe that the move, at this time and in this manner, is not in the best interests of the school. In addition, they've voiced concerns about the governance of the school and the strong influence Mr. Monaghan exerts over the school, arguing that as a donor, Mr. Monaghan should not be able to move the school simply because he wishes. These concerns have been voiced in no confidence votes. They've also been voiced by Prof. Rice in his letters and in his former position on the Board of Governors itself.

So far, these concerns about the move to Florida have not been adequately answered. The no confidence votes were waved off by the Board of Governors as being without merit and have not yet been addressed. Prof. Rice's concerns were dismissed as baseless, and he was removed from the faculty of AMSoL because his current position with regard to the move to Florida is incompatible with him teaching at AMSoL.

I believe there are only two ways to think about all this:

1. The Board of Governors and Dean Dobranski are right to shrug off the no confidence votes and Prof. Rice's letters, because the concerns they state are meritless and baseless; and holding the position that Mr. Monaghan's plan is contrary to the best interests of AMSoL is an illegitimate position to take.

2. The no confidence votes and Prof. Rice's letters state legitimate concerns about what is in the best interests of AMSoL, and they are not being adequately addressed.

My question is to those supporting Mr. Monaghan and the move to Florida. Are the concerns stated in the no confidence votes and Prof. Rice's letters without merit? Are they illegitimate concerns that don't deserve a response? Is holding the position that Mr. Monaghan's plan to move the school to Florida is not in the true best interests of the school a position that is unreasonable and incompatible with supporting AMSoL?

I would like to hear answers to these questions. If you don't think that I'm fairly stating the issue or that I'm misrepresenting something, please let me know.

Thoughtful and respectful comments please. I want a true discussion, with minimal hyperbole and vitriol from both sides, and so, I will be editing and/or deleting comments as I see fit.

UPDATE: I've updated the post to make clarifications and to better state the issue based on comments posted.