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

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why I Find the Deanery Letter to be Ridiculous

I find the Deanery Response to the Honor Board Chair (HBC) to be ridiculous. Some of these points have already been made by commenters, but here is why I think so.

The Deanery Letter says that the HBC statement "contains a series of statements that range from disputed interpretations of events to outright misstatements or omissions of facts" and that it "contains a number of statements that are questionable or factually inaccurate." Yet, the Deanery Letter itself, hypocritically, contains misstatements and omissions of facts, creating questionable or factually inaccurate statements. Ridiculous, I say.

First, the Deanery disagrees with the HBC statement that C. Rice and J. Ryan were "removed" from the Board of Governors. I recognize that might have been a poor choice of words by the HBC because Ryan resigned and Rice was term-limited out. The Deanery, however, fails to acknowledge that both events may have been involuntary (the Rice term-limiting was definitely involuntary, and we don't know all the circumstances of the Ryan resignation).

But the greater hyprocrisy is when the Deanery claims that it is inaccurate to say that three professors were "removed" from the law school. The Deanery says that Prof. Safranek was not "removed" from the school because he is "involved in a pending personnel matter." Ridiculous. Let's go over the facts omitted by the Deanery: Prof. Safranek has been removed from teaching classes this year and all years in the future; he has been suspended and removed from the school's payroll; he has been physically removed from his office, from campus, and from any law school event (such as the Ave Maria Lecture). He has been removed from the law school community. The Deanery reason that Prof. Safranek is not removed because personnel proceedings are pending is illogical. It's like saying that a defendant convicted at trial and currently imprisoned has not been removed from his family, his job, and his community because his appeal is pending. That makes no sense.

This same criticism applies to the situation with Profs. Lyons and Pucillo, who have been removed from teaching classes this year, have been removed from the permanent faculty of AMSL (they have been removed from tenure-track faculty and necessarily will not be AMSL professors next school year), and have been physically removed from the building. It is ridiculous to claim that ending the employment of professors (effectively now, because they are barred from the school, and officially on paper in 10 months) is not removing the professors from the school.

The Deanery then says that not receiving tenure and being provided with a paid leave of absence during their terminal year is "often the case in academic institutions." Wrong. First, it is not normal for an unanimous faculty recommendation in favor of tenure to be overruled by the Dean and/or Board of Governors. Second, per the Faculty Handbook, professors denied tenure will "ordinarily" be reappointed for one more teaching year, not unwillingly placed on leave of absence.

Finally, the Deanery claims that the charge that there is an "intimidation campaign" is "baseless, reckless, and offensive," as they have not intimidated anyone and are not aware of an intimidation campaign. Let me quote the Association of Ave Maria Faculty from their April 30, 2007 statement (which happened before the removal of Safranek, Lyons, and Pucillo):
Since the vote of "no confidence" in Dean Dobranski in April 2006 over issues of faculty governance and academic freedom, he has used threats and retaliation to try to silence members of the faculty from voicing concerns about his leadership and that of Mr. Monaghan. A majority of the faculty whom the Dean believes to be disloyal to him have been punished financially and through manipulation of the promotion and tenure system. One tenured faculty member has been repeatedly threatened with termination based upon bizarre allegations. Junior faculty members have been threatened that their careers would be harmed if they associate with disfavored tenured faculty. We have also been informed that Dean Dobranski had instituted a system of monitoring our emails and computers, and student research assistants have been closely questioned about research projects of disfavored faculty members. All tenured faculty members have been removed from the Chairs of faculty committees, and such chairs are now in the control of the few faculty members whom the Dean believes to be loyal to him. Cumulatively, such intimidation and bullying has created an intolerable atmosphere of fear and contempt at our school.
"Intimidation" is not something which the HBC came up with out of thin air. The faculty describe the events at AMSL as "intimidation."

It is pathetic for the Deanery to jump all over the HBC, who is restating the views of many of the faculty members. Deanery, if you are going to sit back and criticize the use of the word "intimidation," then be adults, grow up, and publish a letter denouncing Profs. Myers, Murphy, Falvey, and the other faculty members. They agree with the HBC's position, and if you've got a problem with Damon, you've got a problem with the professors like Myers, Murphy, and Falvey. Damon, thank you for your courage.

To Michelle and Aaron: I used to think better of you two. It's a shame to see you sign such a ridiculous letter.