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FUMARE

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

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dobranski Interview on Cybercast News Service

Check out this exclusive Cybercast News Service interview with Dean Dobranski, entitled "Ave Maria Law School Weathers Critics, Moves Forward, Says Dean."

As Towelie notes in the comments, Dean Dobranski does not mention the role of the founding faculty in his interview. In the interview, Dobranski says "The idea for [the law school] came from Tom Monaghan. . . . first of all, [the law school] was his idea. It was his vision."

Contrast this with Dobranski's statements in his Fall 2004 University of Toledo Law Review (36 U. Tol. L. Rev. 55): "In our first year, among those on the faculty were four of the original five founding faculty who suggested the creation of a new Catholic law school to Mr. Monaghan in 1998." and "Mr. Monaghan's interest in starting a law school at this time had been stimulated by a group of five faculty members from the University of Detroit Law School - Professors Stephen Safranek, Richard Myers, Mollie Murphy, Joseph Falvey and Laura Hirshfeld - who were dissatisfied with the direction of that law school, especially in its commitment to its Catholic identity."

In the 2004 Toledo Law Review article, Dobranski says the phrase "founding faculty" five times. Contrast that with Dobranski's public statements during the past several months that there is no such thing as "founding faculty."

More Dobranski quotes from the Cybercast interview:
It's fairly typical, like many law schools, but what's slightly different is we're an independent law school.
That may be so, Bernie, but everyone still keeps thinking that the law school is part of AMU.
There's also another provision that is significant in the ABA standards. I think it's Standard 207, which specifically says, for independent law schools, the allocation of authority between the dean and the law faculty is a matter for determination of each institution, as long as both the dean and the faculty have a significant role in determining educational policy.
Dobranski forgot to mention the line immediately above Standard 207 which states, "Except in circumstances demonstrating good cause, a dean should not be appointed or reappointed to a new term over the stated objection of a substantial majority of the faculty."
And when we're talking about "the faculty," we're not talking about everyone here, by any means - in fact, at this time it is nowhere near a majority.
Remember last year when a substantial majority of the faculty voted no confidence, how much Dobranski quibbled over how the number was calculated? However you looked at the numbers then, it was still a majority, though Dobranski didn't want to admit it. Now that the numbers appear to be in Dobranski's favor, he's going to shout it from the rooftops. It's important to see that if now "it is nowhere near a majority," that is not because professors who used to be in the majority have changed their position; it is because these professors have been fired or left the school.
There are 15 people on the board, and I'm on the board.
Whoa, there. I only count 13 people on the Board of Governors.
The National Law Journal also reported that at least 15 students from Ave Maria were leaving the school.
The number of students who transferred over the summer is confirmed to be at least 32 students.

The ABA's decision letter includes no conclusion that the school's governance fails to comply with standards or that the law school infringed the academic freedom of any faculty member or any other conclusions with regard to any of the other charges made by the complaining faculty.

Cybercast News Service: So, the ABA has essentially given you a fairly clean bill of health?

Cybercast's question is ridiculous. It is implicitly stating that, even though the school is under ABA investigation, because academic freedom wasn't mentioned in this letter, the ABA has essentially ruled that the school is in full compliance with ABA standards. That makes no sense.
And the critics believe that they run the law school and that the board does not. The most obvious instance of this is when certain critics claim that thedecision to relocate could not be made without them making it. They wanted to sit at the table and be the decisive factor.
I've never heard the faculty say that they should have the authority to make the decision to relocate not the Board of Governors, yet Dobranski says this 3 or 4 times in the interview. All that they have done is request the Board demonstrate that it has acted in accordance with its fiduciary duty to the law school. There are lots of things that makes one doubt that the Board has done so, with the most obvious one being Monaghan's participation on the Board even though he creates an enormous conflict of interest.

And if you had any doubt that the Cybercast interview was not a piece of authentic investigative journalism but propaganda instead, all doubt can be removed with this beauty of a final question:
Cybercast News Service: In other businesses, sometimes the headquarters relocate or various divisions relocate and people pick up and go because that's their job and that's what they have to do - it's the real world. Why should that reality be any different for people who work at a law school that is relocating?
Thank you, Cybercast, for enlightening us dullards.

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