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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Falvey Report Discussion: Financial Independence or Continued Reliance on Mr. Monaghan?

For all joining us, please read the Falvey Report here.

I've decided to start a new post on discussion about the Falvey Report, because an earlier one was getting too unruly. I will be editing the comments of both sides in order to ensure a reasonable discussion (so be warned, bluto, and thelawdog). I will not censor opposing viewpoints; in fact, I welcome them (so please join me, Mr. Pelham, and LoneWolf, and others).

To start off the discussion, here are two points.

1. The Falvey Report indicates that Ave Maria School of Law's financial plan prepared for ABA accreditation in Fall 2004, as approved by the administration and the Board of Governors, was that the school would be financially independent from Ave Maria Foundation/Mr. Monaghan money by 2009. Prof. Falvey recommends that the school return to this plan for financial independence. I agree with him. Financial independence, which would also entail independence from undue influence by Mr. Monaghan, is the most desirable goal for AMSOL.

For those supporting Mr. Monaghan and the Florida move, do you think that financial independence from Ave Maria Foundation, one that has a sufficient donor base and endowment to support scholarships, is a desirable goal?

2. Everyone seems to acknowledge that during the upcoming years before full financial independence is reached, there will be much less available money for scholarships. Consequently, some of the commenters argue that continued financial subsidies from Mr. Monaghan are necessary in order to guarantee the quality of the incoming classes over the next few years. Here is Anonymous's question to me:
Do you acknowledge that the school would have a low-quality Class of 2009 if not for a huge new subsidy necessitated by the feud made very public by the alumni association, the faculty, and FUMARE? Do you acknowledge that without this new subsidy the school would be even more of a laughing stock than it now - so much so that the class of 2009 and 2010 would be of such low quality that the harm to the school would be almost lethal?
My answer is no, I don't think incoming classes to a Michigan-based school with low scholarships would be lower-quality than incoming classes to a Michigan-transition-to-Florida school with higher scholarships.

First, most law students across the country don't get scholarships. Scholarships are nice, but if AMSOL didn't have a large amount of scholarship money for the couple of years before financial independence, it wouldn't be much different than from most law schools.

Second, if the Florida option is chosen, the law school over the next couple of years will not be a very desirable place to go to school regardless of how much money is offered in scholarships: the internal strife would rise to higher levels; a substantial majority of the faculty/staff would change during a student's time at school; the student would most likely begin classes in Michigan and end them in Florida; the school's accreditation future might be in question; and the student would graduate from a brand-new Florida school, not a 9 or 10 year old established Michigan school, with a resulting loss of job opportunities.

Personally, I would not go to such a school with such a tumultuous existence regardless of how much money was offered. I would consider going to a school like Ave Maria as it was in my day (with the best Catholic legal environment in the world) even if I had no scholarship assistance.

Any thoughts or comments?