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

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

June 28 Alumni Board Response to Dobranski Letter

On June 28, 2007, the Ave Maria School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors sent the following letter to Dean Dobranski and all alumni. The Alumni Board letter is a response to Dean Dobranski's June 4, 2007 letter, which was discussed here.

Bernard Dobranski
Dean and Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
3475 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105-2550

June 28, 2007

Dear Dean Dobranski:

We received your letter dated June 4, 2007, and are sincerely disappointed that we will not have the benefit of your participation in Alumni Board meetings. We write to encourage you to reconsider your position on participation for the benefit of all members of the Ave Maria Alumni Association.

Alumni Board meetings offer a unique formal opportunity for our constituents to present questions and receive input from you about our beloved alma mater. It is certain that the Florida relocation has created tension in our community, but we believe this is a cause for greater interaction and measured discussion among concerned members of the school community. Furthermore, besides the issue of relocation, there are many other matters affecting the school community on which alumni have questions and constructive proposals, such as alumni assistance in career services, alumni efforts to improve the school's Fourth Tier ranking, and alumni public relations. These and other issues make it extremely valuable for alumni to have an opportunity to consult you through their elected representatives at Alumni Board meetings. These are, generally, the only "town hall" meetings available to alumni. Accordingly, your absence from these meetings hinders alumni in learning your perspective on these important matters.

In your letter, you list several instances where you have disagreed with certain decisions of the Alumni Board and with certain of its members. We are compelled to mention two portions of your letter. First, with regard to the February 20, 2007 decision to relocate to Florida, on the morning before the Florida press conference, an email was sent to all alumni announcing the decision to move to Florida. This announcement also explained the reasons behind the Florida decision. Accordingly, those Alumni Board members who met at an emergency meeting on February 20, 2007 and who voted in support of an Alumni Board statement expressing opposition to the Florida decision are of the opinion that they had sufficient knowledge to support their statement.

Second, contrary to our understanding of your assertion, information discussed at Alumni Board meetings is not confidential until released in approved minutes. Alumni Board members are free to discuss what occurred at Alumni Board meetings with their constituents before the minutes are approved, unless the contents of the meeting are explicitly designated as confidential, a designation that happens on very rare occasions. Since the normal course of business consists of non-confidential Alumni Board meetings, information discussed at Alumni Board meetings can be shared with interested constituents. This practice is consistent with our belief that Alumni Board actions should occur with as much transparency and openness as possible. Moreover, we are charged, in part, with connecting alumni with the happenings at their alma mater; effectively relaying information to them in a timely fashion enables us to achieve one of the objectives for which we were elected.

You also list other instances where you disagree with actions taken by the Alumni Board or some of its members. We recognize these disagreements, and we understand that you have always acted in what you believe are the best interests of Ave Maria School of Law. Please know that, in a similar manner, each member of the Alumni Board believe that he or she has always acted in the best interests of Ave Maria School of Law and of the constituent members of the Alumni Association. It is the opinion of each Alumni Board member that he or she has not violated the standards of professionalism, acted in bad faith, or acted in violation of the bylaws of the Alumni Association. Most importantly, please know it has never been the intention of any Alumni Board member to frustrate the mission of Ave Maria School of Law.

Despite these differences of opinion, and perhaps in light of these same differences, we believe that both the administration and the alumni would benefit from continued interaction by means of the Alumni Board meetings. It is our hope that, because of the strong benefits of open communication between the alumni and the administration and Board of Governors, you will soon be in a position to reconsider your decision and make it, once again, a priority to personally attend our upcoming meetings. As always, we remain dedicated to the service of Ave Maria School of Law and her alumni.

In Christ,
The Board of Directors of the Ave Maria Alumni Association