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

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fellowship of Catholic Scholars President An Embarassment to Group

Elsewhere, there was posted a brilliant articulation of Dean Bernard Dobranski's accomplishments at AMSL. Indeed they are many. In light of this catalogue, I am reminded of Ex Corde Ecclesiae (required reading for all who comment here), and a piece that I commented on sometime ago: Fr. Paul Quay, S.J.'s "Toward An Understanding of Academic Freedom" (also required reading). In order to fairly comment and critique the law school's governance, one must have a clear understanding of the (1) what a Catholic school is--specifically the notion of higher education (i.e., college, university, or--in AMSL's case--a post-graduate professional school), (2) what is the relationship between the professor and the administration at such a school--their respective rights and responsibilities, and (3) how does the Catholic Faith inform the teaching and administration of said schools.

The point of this post is not to answer these necessary questions in great detail. Rather, it is to point out that a clear understanding of these initial questions--articulated well by the aforesaid documents--well positions someone to comment on the deplorable situation at AMSL. These are also the same questions that The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars (FCS) was founded to address. In the 1970's, in the wake of Land o' Lakes, Humanae Vitae, and the dissenting positions taken by many of the established organs of Catholic academia in the United States, FCS was founded by a core group of scholars from various universities to:

wholeheartedly support the renewal of the Catholic Church undertaken by Pope John XXIII, shaped by Vatican II, and carried on by subsequent pontiffs. We accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and believe that contemporary questions must be considered with courage and dealt with in honesty. We strive to assist everyone to personal assent to the mystery of Christ as made manifest in the lived faith of the Church.

Since that time, FCS has been a beacon of truly Catholic intellectual accomplishment and pursuit. Sadly, the current President of FCS--in practice--does not uphold the principles of the scholarly group and threatens to further embarrass its respected standing. All those members and associate members of FCS should be appalled at the conduct of the Fellowship's President and should ask for his immediate resignation in light of his "missing the mark" with regard to the maintenance of a truly Catholic institution of higher education.

Consider the following FACTS:

1. No Confidence Vote by the Faculty--a demonstration that the community of scholars considers the institution not to be accomplishing its end.

2. ABA Investigation--initiated by faculty complaint alleging violation of ABA Standards; the result of said investigation possibly may threaten accredidation. Further, under the ABA's Standards an investigation is warranted only when there is some merit to the complaint.

3. Failure to Adequately Fundraise--(acknowledged by his former Director of Development), thus creating a culture of financial dependence upon Mr. Monaghan.

4. 4th Tier Status--Promise made of 1st tier status for the law school (as measured by US News and World Report), but rather two years in a row of 4th tier status. Promise made last year to make efforts to improve status; acknowledgement this year by administration that nothing was done.

5. Deplorable treatment of Founder and Faculty--Discharging respected Notre Dame Law Professor and AMSL Founder Charles Rice from the BoG and as an adjunct faculty member a mere several weeks before teaching his fall classes last year. The latest "Faculty Purge"whose victims include Professors Stephen Safranek, his wife, and his 7 children; Professor Phil Pucillo, his wife, and his 4 children; and Professor Edward Lyons, his wife, and his 5 children.

6. Refusal to meet with the duly elected Alumni Board and answer questions, thus refusing to hear alumni concerns.

7. Recipient of Alumni Board no confidence vote.

9. Reports of a significant number of students transferring from AMSL to other law schools--due to the instability under the Dean's leadership.

10. Soviet-like management and quelling of so-called “dissent"--from the creation of the ex post facto "affirmatively injurious" standard for faculty conduct to the reports of monitoring the communications systems and computer activities of faculty and staff.

11. Candid acknowledgement from—now resigned—members of the Board of Governors that AMSL is a “failed experiment.”

12. Nepotism--The employment of his son, Chris Dobranski, for several years as a Research Fellow, likely drawing a salary and thus likely wasting law school resources with no notable scholarship or teaching to show for it.

13. The Chaplain at the Pulpit--making inappropriate statements and embarrassing indictments during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to echo the will of Dobranski and Monaghan.

Admittedly, there is more, but these facts highlight how far the President of FCS has strayed in his own institution from an authentically Catholic community of scholars--the type which the FCS stands for and upholds. Basic human dignity has been jetisoned; the impact on young families has been ignored; the impact on alumni and students has been ignored; Mr. Monaghan's dream of a Catholic utopia has figured prominently.

Contact the FCS and demand that Bernard Dobranski resign from his position as President. He brings great shame upon that fine organization and taints it with his incompetence and his ruthlessness.

Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Contact Info:

Msgr. Stuart W. Swetland
Executive Secretary
Phone: look.this.up

Mr. James Shank
Assistant to the Executive Secretary, Webmaster
Phone: 217.255.6625