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

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

July 31 Letter to Board of Governors From Alumni Board

Dear Board of Governors,

We are writing to submit an urgent request for you to disclose information to us about the termination proceedings involving Professor Stephen Safranek. Prof. Safranek is a fully tenured faculty member, and one of the several central faculty members to whom our school owes its existence. His students, even those who have disagreed with him, know him to possess the highest ethical integrity.

Prof. Safranek has expressed disagreement with the school's administration and Mr. Monaghan regarding many of their decisions, including actions surrounding the move of the school to Florida. Since the school has not publicly communicated any grounds justifying the termination proceedings, alumni and other onlookers are left to presume that the termination is because of Prof. Safranek's disagreement with the administration and with Board members.

Suppression of disagreement is a gravely erroneous basis for terminating a tenured faculty member at a Catholic academic institution. The administration's and Board's views do not command ethical, moral, or religious assent for a Catholic professor. Prominent professors at other law schools have publicly called attention to our school's treatment of disagreeing faculty. In comments relating to disagreement by faculty, Dean Dobranski threatened to consider unspecified conduct as "affirmatively injurious" to the law school. Decisions related to the Florida move have put our school's very accreditation into jeopardy, and the ABA would likely consider suppression of academic disagreement to be a serious detriment to accreditation. Moreover, ABA standards of due process are at stake, such as in suspending Prof. Safranek without pay as of September 15, 2007, since the ABA's standards for law school approval discuss continuing a professor's salary for a year unless he is dismissed for reasons involving moral turpitude.

These factors raise an extremely serious concern about the disciplinary proceedings against Prof. Safranek, and the strong-arm treatment associated with his suspension. For the good of our law school community, its mission, and the value of our law degrees, we must respectfully ask that you act transparently in this case by releasing information about the termination proceedings. Specifically, we ask you to disclose the identity of the members making up the relevant Executive Committee, the identity of the members of the Board itself, the charges alleged against Prof. Safranek and the evidence related to those charges. You have the power to waive your own confidentiality regarding these issues, and to grant Prof. Safranek permission and immunity to publicly discuss them. Members of our school community have a duty, for the good of the school's mission, to make these facts

Because of the urgency of this situation, it is vitally important that the information be disclosed to us by the end of this week, August 3. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.

AMSL Alumni Association Board
Cc: Members of the Alumni Association