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

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is Dobranski an Employee of Ave Maria School of Law?

Some really interesting comments in a recent post are saying that it seems that Dean Dobranski is NOT an employee of Ave Maria School of Law. In other words, Dobranski apparently doesn't have an employment contract with AMSOL. Instead, Dobranski apparently has an employment contract with either the Ave Maria Foundation or with Tom Monaghan personally.

The little research I've done and the rumors I've heard have supported this allegation, though I guess we'll have to wait for the Monaghan deposition transcripts or actual employment contract for final confirmation.

If this is true, it is shocking news. This is a blatant conflict of interest that I don't think anyone (including the Board of Governors) has been aware of. How can any one expect Dobranski to be acting solely for the best interests of the law school for all these years (including participating in Board of Governors votes about the school's future in Florida) when he is being paid by an interested third party? AMSOL is an independent law school and its interests are independent from the interests of Monaghan or the Ave Maria Foundation, and yet Dobranski has apparently been operating under their pay. Every action Dobranski has taken "for the good of the school" is now undermined, as there is absolutely no assurance that Dobranski has acted without influence from his employer.

Shocking. Does anyone have any more information on this topic? Has a dean at any other law school ever been employed by an outside third party? Do the current members of the Board of Governors (who are supposedly an independent board making decisions in the best interests of AMSOL) know about this conflict of interest? What would this mean for the ABA? Was the ABA ever told? Is this an additional ABA violation?

UPDATE: AveWatch has good commentary and asks even more questions: If Dobranski has an employment contract with Monaghan and/or the Ave Maria Foundation and not with the law school, are any tax laws being violated? Based on IRS forms, it looks like Dobranski is getting money from the law school and the Ave Maria Foundation doesn't list Dobranski as a "highly paid employee."

AveWatch also has a good illustration of the conflict of interest, if the allegation re: Dobranski's employment situation turns out to be true:
What other law school in the country has a Dean who is a private employee of the institution's primary benefactor or Board Chairman? Try this for perspective - Pretend that Notre Dame Law School replaced its current Dean with an employee of Walt Disney who then tried to argue, credibly, that it is objectively in the best interests of NDLS to move from South Bend to Disneyland to execute its "mission".