Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!
Friday, May 30, 2008
Cindy McCain, traveling in Bangladesh, had promised a Catholic friend she would visit Mother Teresa’s orphanage there. After her tour, two nuns whom Cindy laughingly describes as “sweet and tenacious” brought two children to her. They explained that both babies would die (one suffered from malnutrition issues, the other from severe cleft palate) unless brought to the United States. Cindy said Yes to their pleas on behalf of the children. . . .
She brought the babies back home, presenting one to her husband: “John, here’s your new baby.”
In a way that defies his tough, military persona, he describes the “extreme privilege” of receiving his new daughter — surprise or not.
You may remember from a few weeks ago, Obama’s answer to a question at a town hall meeting regarding HIV and STDs: He said, “Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” [Emphasis added.]
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
From: Milhizer, Eugene R
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 12:52 PM
To: All Law System Distribution
Subject: Personnel Announcement
May 21, 2008
Dear Members of the Ave Maria Community:
I am pleased to inform you that Mitchell E. Counts has been named Visiting Associate Professor of Law and Acting Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. His appointment is effective Tuesday, May 27, 2008.
As you may know, Dean Counts joined the Law School faculty in 1999 and served as Associate Dean of Library and Information Services and Associate Professor of Law until April 2006. In addition to his service at Ave Maria, he has had a record of accomplishment at Baylor University School of Law, where he was the Director of the Law Library. He also served as the Computer Services Librarian for the Indiana University School of Law and as Associate Director of the Library for Mississippi College School of Law. Most recently, Dean Counts served as Associate Dean for Library and Information Services and Associate Professor of Law at Elon University School of Law.
Professor Counts has taught courses in education law and legal writing and research, and he has served as a consultant and a member of a site-inspection team for the ABA. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University, a J.D. from South Texas College of Law, and a Master of Library and Information Science from Indiana University.
Please join me in welcoming Dean Counts upon his return to the Ave Maria School of Law community. He will play a valuable role as we prepare for the coming academic year and our relocation to Naples, Florida.
Eugene R. Milhizer
Acting Dean and Associate Professor of Law
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
From: Milhizer, Eugene R
Date: Fri, May 23, 2008 at 8:19 AM
Subject: February Bar Passage Results
To: All Law School Personnel, All Alumni
May 23, 2008
The February 2008 results of the Michigan Bar exam were released the week of May 12, 2008. A total of 8 Ave Maria graduates sat for the February 2008 Michigan Bar Exam. Of the 8, two were first time test takers and both passed, providing Ave Maria with a 100% bar passage rate for "first time takers" in the State of Michigan, tying with the University of Michigan Law School for first place in the state in this category. The remaining 6 graduates were "re-applicants" or repeat takers; 4 of the 6 re-applicants passed, resulting in a 67% passage rate for repeat takers, the highest of all Michigan law schools. The total combined score of first time test takers and repeat takers was 75%, the second highest total bar passage rate in the State of Michigan.
Acting Dean Eugene R. Milhizer
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Dean Milhizer: I now ask that you please welcome the Chairman of our Board of Governors and our most generous benefactor, Mr. Thomas Monaghan.
Mr. Monaghan: Thank you. Thank you very much.
First I want to thank Congressman Smith for coming here and being with us today. It is a great honor for us. I don't think there is anybody in history who has saved more babies all over the world than Congressman Smith.
I also reiterate what Dean Milhizer said, that we would pray for Dean Bernie Dobranski and also Ryan Buckshaw. I might also say that I think we're very fortunate that we had someone in the wings to take over when Dean Dobranski became ill and has done an oustanding job filling in during the breach. He, uh, nobody could....[applause]
I would also like to thank, particularly, the students who have graduated today and came to Ave Maria School of Law. Not only came here, but stayed here through some rather turbulent times.
Some might say "Why go on with this law school?" "Why keep supporting it?" Judges come from... most of our politicians, and a good many of our business leaders in this country come from this profession. I think there's a real need for our country to have an authentic Catholic law school such as Ave Maria. So I want to thank you for being a part of this.
I can say I'm more enthusiastic, and that goes for the entire Board of Governors, more enthusiastic than ever, more motivated, to make this law school the finest Catholic law school in the country. And you're going to be proud of this law school, you're going to be proud of that diploma, and I'm sure that the law school will be proud of you. Thank you very much.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
What is calumny, you ask? Fr. Orsi gives the American Heritage Dictionary definition: "a false statement maliciously made to injure another's reputation."
Here is an example of non-calumny: Mr. Monaghan committed an objectively evil act by seeking the termination of a tenured professor on exaggerated and/or false harassment charges.
And here is an example of calumny: Thales is mean and his earlier statement a line above this one about Mr. Monaghan is calumnious.
UPDATE: I thought that I should clarify the point that I am making in the main post.
I wholeheartedly agree with Fr. Orsi that calumnious blogging is damaging and uncharitable. I also want to remind everyone that untruthful accusations that someone is being calumnious, is itself calumny. Restraint is necessary on all sides of blog debates. Speaking for myself, I am confident that I have never engaged in calumny and I stand by every word that I have written on Fumare.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I can't predict with certainty what the ABA will do [regarding an acquiescence application]. But I'm comfortable that the ABA will look at all the factors and grant its acquiescence.I reported last week that there is STILL no word from the administration on a time frame for submission of an acquiescence application to the ABA. Why are there still people who trust Dobranski's word?
We're in the process of putting together information [about the move] for the ABA. We're hopeful of getting a decision from ABA before the end of this year or early next year.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
February 20, 2007. That was the date on which AMSL made the formal announcement that it was moving to Ave Maria Town, Florida. Here are some excerpts from AMSL's official press release on February 20, 2007:
The Board of Governors of Ave Maria School of Law (AMSOL) has voted to move the law school from its current location in Ann Arbor, Mich., to the town of Ave Maria, Fla., located between Naples and Immokalee. The school will open on a site in the new Collier County town of Ave Maria, in the fall of 2009.Here is what I find curious: On February 20, 2007, AMSL announced it was moving to Ave Maria. (We know that the Board of Governors met and voted on this decision on Saturday, February 17, according to Bradley's email.) Since that time, a full year and 3 months later, ground has not yet been broken on the new law building in Ave Maria even though blueprints have been drawn and land for the building has been set aside. A month ago, on April 17, a year and 2 months after the announcement of the move to Florida, AMSL announced that it was going to move to the temporary Vineyards location in Naples instead of AMU because of the "declining national economy and the high construction costs resulting from the rising prices of raw materials." This excuse, however, doesn't explain why no ground-breaking happened for a year and 2 months up to the April 17 Vineyards annoucement, and doesn't explain why there is still no current plan for ground-breaking in place; even though construction costs are up, that wouldn't change the fact that the BOG/Monaghan should want AMSL to be at AMU as soon as possible. Why is there no plan for ground-breaking, a year and 3 months after the decision to move was made?
After almost five years of discussions and research about the feasibility of relocating, the Board of Governors determined that moving to Ave Maria, Fla., will give the Law School its best opportunity to thrive and continue fulfilling its unique mission of educating outstanding lawyers in the context of the Catholic intellectual tradition. The Board also noted its first step is to begin the process of securing the acquiescence of the American Bar Association (ABA) for the move.......
[Said Dean Dobranski:] "The Board believes significant future success will be found in Southwest Florida where the Law School will be co-located with a new and vibrant Catholic university in one of the fastest growing regions in the country. This will allow the Law School the unparalleled opportunity to accelerate its efforts to become a premier educational institution, integrating strong legal fundamentals with a deep understanding of the Catholic faith and intellectual tradition."
"I am extremely pleased that the Law School plans to move its campus to Ave Maria, Fla.," said Monaghan. ... Although not affiliated with Ave Maria University, it is anticipated that the law school will enjoy mutually beneficial relationships with the University and the new town of Ave Maria.
Another curiosity: Up until the April 17 Vineyards announcement, AMSL had not yet applied for acquiescence from the ABA. Why the delay for a year and 2 months? Back in February 2007, Dobranski kept saying that ABA approval for the Florida move couldn't happen BEFORE a decision to move by the BOG, but that since the decision had been made, the ABA could now be approached. Why wasn't the ABA approached during the following year and 2 months? Now it seems that that the acquiescence application will be for a move to Vineyards, not to AMU. Was Monaghan anticipating all along that the move wouldn't be to AMU, and so didn't want to submit an acquiescence application? Regardless of the answer to that question, to this date, there is still no word from the administration that it has submitted its application for acquiescence. Why is there still delay? No one knows how long the ABA will take to evaluate an application for acquiescence. If AMSL wants to move next summer, shouldn't the application be given as soon as possible?
So here we are: 452 days and counting since the Board of Governors decision to move to Ave Maria, and there is no sign of breaking ground in Ave Maria Town and no word on an acquiescence application to the ABA. I don't think Monaghan is so incompetent as to not take the important steps such as applying for acquiescence. Is Monaghan 100% committed to moving AMSL to Ave Maria, or is he preparing to pull the plug (perhaps in anticipation of bad results from the faculty lawsuit and/or ABA investigation)? All you entering AMSL 1Ls and rising 2Ls, be warned: know that Monaghan has pulled the plug on a school before. Monaghan closed Ave Maria College in Michigan a year earlier than he originally promised and offered the students buy-out deals to finish their degrees at other schools. He might just do the same with AMSL.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
NAPLES, FL (AP) - The students of Ave Maria School of Law, Vineyards Campus celebrated their last pool side party at the St. Thomas Moore Commons swimming pool before the pool is filled in next semester at the direction of law school owner and operator Thomas Monaghan. Monaghan is shutting the pool down for being an occasion of immodesty that promotes lustful leering.
In a last ditch effort to convince Monaghan that the pool is not an occasion for immodesty and sinful leering, the students organized a Christmas party at the pool to show how the St. Thomas Moore Commons swimming pool is an indispensable part of rebuilding the sense of lost community and morale at the floundering law school since the move to Naples. The students hope to send the message that men and women can swim together in purity as long as the women wear modest swimming suits.
"It is all about showing how we can be virtuous and modest in a co-ed swimming context," said Jim Foxer, 3L one of the organizers of the event and swimming enthusiast. "Look, here are a bunch of fellas from the Moot Court Team singing Christmas carols, and having a bit of good clean fun and they don't even notice their fellow co-ed because she is wearing an Ave Maria Wholesome Wear Swimming Suit. Mr. Monaghan has nothing to worry about. " - referring to the selection of swim suits that the Ave Maria Women's Law Society has made available to the women in the Ave Maria Community.
"I find that I respect a woman more when she is covered up," said Ernie Keester a second year law student. "It is one of the insights that Tom Monaghan had about women that is really inspired."
"I find the Ave Maria Wholesome Wear swimsuits very slimming," said Keera McFlynn, a first year law student. "No, I don't think they demean women. I think they liberate men to see the real me inside."
Not all the students joined in the fun. One students offered the following under condition of anonymity, "First we are told that we are moving to Ave Maria Town, and that is why they destroyed the law school in Ann Arbor - for a great new facility, made to order. Now we have been planted in this rejected old-folks home, the Vineyards Campus, where all the available housing is owned by Tom Monaghan, so we pay him twice, once for tuition and then again for housing."
He continued, "So now he is taking away the only decent amenity that we have to keep us cool on a hot day (which is just about EVERY DAY down here!), because he has a hangup about seeing the back of women's knees!?! But what really drives me nuts is seeing idiots like Jim Foxer prance around trying to please Monaghan and suck up to this nut job in the hope that he will look kindly on their interests. I can't believe they actually got a women to put one of those things on."
The pool was originally planned to be filled in before the arrival of students at the new Vineyards Campus, but due to lack of funds, the project was pushed back several months.
When contacted and asked about the swimming pool controversy at the Vineyards, Mr. Monaghan remarked, "Do I own a Vineyard? I don't know if I do. Are you sure I own one? Where do I live?"
Acting Dean Milhizer when asked about the swimming pool controversy said, "We value all our students. Some people swim, some people don't. In fact, many students are transferring to our law school because we are filling in the swimming pool."
When asked if the Board of Governors was reconsidering the decision to fill in the swimming pool because of the outpouring of student interest in keeping the pool, Acting Dean Milhizer said, "I don't believe Tom Monaghan has changed his mind about it."
Monday, May 12, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
As far as I can see, all reference to a planned move to Ave Maria Town has been purged from the school's website. On the main Florida relocation page, there is no mention of the "synergy" and sharing of facilities which would result from having the law school next to Ave Maria University. Always nice to see another instance of rewriting history (which Monaghan and Dobranski have done before).
Now, we know that the official reasons given by the Board of Governors for the move to Vineyards are the "declining national economy" and "high construction costs." We also know that the AMSL Florida move is being financed by the Ave Maria Foundation, which Board of Governor member Tom Monaghan controls. Finally, we know that the Ave Maria Foundation finances AMU, and that this financial support is substantial and seems to be increasing (based on the recent news of the increasing AMU scholarships.)
Isn't this the most definitive, unquestionable, and clear-cut example of a breach of fiduciary duty by Monaghan we've seen so far? Monaghan has a duty to act for AMSL's best interests. It is undisputed that the Vineyards move is less desirable than a move to Ave Maria Town, but that the Vineyards move is necessary because the Ave Maria Foundation (controlled by Monaghan) doesn't have sufficient money for AMSL to move directly to Ave Maria Town. However, at the same time, the Ave Maria Foundation is giving a substantial (and increasing) amount money to AMU. In short, Monaghan, through the Ave Maria Foundation, has chosen to give money to AMU instead of AMSL, to the detriment of AMSL. Monaghan has chosen the best interests of AMU over those of AMSL, and in so doing, has breached his fiduciary duty to AMSL. By going along with this Vineyards decision, the rest of the Board of Governors have breached their fiduciary duties also. Shameful.
If any Monaghan supporter sees a flaw in my argument, I welcome your challenge.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Also, AveWatch has analysis on a recent Naples News article, about AMU spending money to buy students, "stealing" them from places like Christendom.
Since the Ave Maria Foundation funds both AMU and AMSL, it is valid to ask if AMSL is being shorted to bolster AMU. If real estate investment money is not rolling in to AMU yet, and students are not paying much of their own tuition even after being open for 5 years, how can AMU afford 2 new dorms, a $12M athletic facility, fielding sports teams & coaches, and all these scholarships (including ones for athletes)?AveWatch makes a good point. The Foundation is telling AMSL that it doesn't have enough money to build a permanent building, and yet, the Foundation is spending tons of money on AMU.... right, Monaghan has no conflicts of interest and always makes decisions with the best interests of AMSL (and not AMU) in mind.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Dear Board of Governors,
We write seeking information about grave matters affecting the future financial stability and accreditation of Ave Maria School of Law, based on significant recent changes in its plans to move to Florida, and on our school's apparent decline in U.S. News law school rankings even among the lowest tier of schools. We respectfully request that you respond as a Board by letter, and that your members be available for town hall meetings with alumni and students, which have been helpful in the past.
The school recently announced that you or your executive committee voted to move the school to the Vineyards property in Naples, Florida, instead of to Ave Maria Town, because of a shortfall of funds for the school's building in Ave Maria Town. In early 2007, when you voted to move the school to Florida, the announcement and related town hall meetings indicated that the decision to move would secure future funding for the school from the Ave Maria Foundation and real estate proceeds in Ave Maria Town, and publicity indicated that the school would move into a beautiful new building at Ave Maria Town.
The recent decision to move to Vineyards raises several questions that are vitally important to alumni and students, who sacrificially subjected their reputations and careers to the law school's future achievements. Was the 2007 decision to move to Florida based on promised funding for moving directly into a building at Ave Maria Town? If so, why is that promise not being fulfilled? If not, why did you decide to move without a secure promise for facilities, and did you receive any financial promises at all to recommend the move?
Why have you decided to move the school twice, rather than keeping it in its present location until the building at Ave Maria Town, and any other instability at Ave Maria Town and University, are secured? Would you have decided in early 2007 to move the school to Florida if the proposal was to move to Vineyards and only later to move to Ave Maria Town? Is there even now a promised date for moving to Ave Maria Town, or could the school be moving to Vineyards for the foreseeable future?
Mr. Monaghan recently testified in a deposition that there is a provision in the contract with the Barron Collier Co., stating that the law school must be located in Ave Maria Town to be a beneficiary of the projected profits from real estate sales in Ave Maria Town. Is there an exception to this rule for the Vineyards campus? If not, does this prevent the very source of funding that justified the decision to move to Florida? Does the law school's Vineyards location have any adverse effect on its ability to access funding?
How will accreditation and acquiescence be affected by deciding to move to Vineyards? What communications has the school had with the ABA about the move? When you decided that moving would likely receive acquiescence, did you rely on the proposed Ave Maria Town facilities, and if so, how does a double move alter that calculus? Will moving twice cause accreditation to be downgraded, or add years to the time before full accreditation can be restored, or require the accreditation process to begin again altogether? What effect will moving twice have on housing for faculty, staff, and students in between Vineyards and Ave Maria Town, and will that adversely impact faculty recruiting?
What impact will all these developments have on the vital statistics that inform law school rankings (faculty recruiting, student scores, peer review)? Have you explored or received from the Dean a specific plan to reverse the school's decline deeper into the rankings' fourth tier?
For the good of the school we ask you to open communications with alumni and students on these vital questions, by responding in a letter and scheduling regional meetings between Board of Governors members and alumni over the next few weeks. Finally, we would like to reiterate our long-standing request for an alumni seat on the Board of Governors to facilitate open communication. Thank you for your concern.
Alumni Association Board of Directors of Ave Maria School of Law
cc: Alumni of AMSL
The brain drain at the school has been devastating, Myers said. "There were 20 full-time people on the faculty a year-and-a-half ago," he said. "Next year there will be five of that group left teaching full-time. That's a dramatic change."I wonder who this anonymous professor is. We know Dobranski has used this revolting tactic of penalizing salaries before. (Myers said it happened to him.)
Yet another professor who quit said he was the victim of retaliation in the form of tiny salary increases after he did not support the move to Florida. "I wouldn't have looked elsewhere except for the mistreatment by Dean Dobranski," he said.
It was mentioned in the comments, but I thought this preposterous statement by Milhizer deserved greater publicity in a post.
When asked if he was concerned about the faculty departures, Milhizer said, "we value all our faculty."... because it is normal for 15 out of 20 faculty to leave a law school (never mind the fact that many faculty actually said that their departures are due to Florida and/or Monaghan injustice). Dean Milhizer, I know you want to downplay the instability that the Florida move is causing to the school, but if you say idiotic things that are out of touch with reality, it makes you look like an idiot out of touch with reality. Next time, just admit that many of the professors are not going to move to Florida, and then say that you are confident that you will find new top-notch faculty to replace them. See how easy that is?
He denied that the departures were related to the move to Florida. "Even if we weren't moving to Florida, there would be departures," Milhizer said. "That's what happens at law schools."
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Rep. Smith's office did not return our inquiries as to whether Prof. Jim Sonne will be serving as an intern in the upcoming months.
My two cents: I think Dobranski is still wheeling and dealing from his home. I suspect that he is trying to do some damage control and trying like hell to lure someone, anyone, to teach at this place.
Monday, May 05, 2008
From: Milhizer, Eugene R
Sent: Mon 5/5/2008 11:14 AM
To: All Law System Distribution; All Alumni
Subject: Personnel Update
Dear Law School Community,
Aaron Keesler will be leaving his position as Assistant Dean this June. As some of you may know, Aaron's wife Najwa is a new doctor and she has accepted a position in a fellowship program at the University of California at San Francisco. Aaron tells me he intends to take this opportunity to work as a practicing attorney. We are grateful for the dedicated work at the law school of this AMSL graduate of the Class of 2005. I know you join me in wishing them both well.
Eugene R. Milhizer, Acting Dean
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Saturday, May 03, 2008
It will be interesting to see how things play out.
Friday, May 02, 2008
Well here it is. And here.
In the beginning of April, I was in Rome at the papal mass in remembrance of Beloved John Paul II The Great's death.
Having gotten seats to the side of the altar only yards away from the Holy Sacrifice of the mass, I looked over and saw Fr. Michael Mary whom I recognized from the documentary linked above praying before the liturgy began. I went over to him and introduced myself knowing that for him to be in Rome at a papal mass meant they were coming back into formal communion with the universal Church. I told him how good it was to see him. He seemed taken aback and genuinely moved.
I asked him if he was saying any masses in Rome while there. He said, yes, and told me where, but then added that it would not be proper for me to come as they are not as of that moment fully regularized back into the Church.
It was a beautiful moment in the Eternal City. True fruit of the liberalization of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite.
Welcome home Fr. Michael Mary, thank you for holding out for the sake of tradition.
You can lie, cheat, break promises all you want so long as you fight pornography, contraception, and abortion and you are the paragon of Catholicism.
And the guy can't see the scandal in it. He's an absurd example of what he claims to be fighting in the rest of Catholic education. At least Fr. Drinan told the truth.
Black's defines a "conflict of interest" (the non-rules of professional conduct type) as:
1. A real or seeming incompatibility between one's private interests and one's public or fiduciary duties. . .
In short, if your concern for your own interests (or allegiances you might owe to other enterprises) is incompatible with duties owed to another, you have a conflict.
What do you think about this from pp. 374-375?:
Wow. That's about all I can say. Wow. Does it help that he (admittedly) doesn't know what a fiduciary duty is?
When you purchased your law school education, you also had a reasonable expectation about the "branding" of the institution as a professional, accredited law school that has a reputation for high standards of LEGAL excellence and scholarship; you never considered purchasing a "homosexual lifestyle brand" to be associated with your professional degree for the rest of your career. THAT "brand value" wasn't included in your expectations.
Now that you are a graduate of Harvard "Homosexual Lifestyle Brand" Law School, you get funny questions during employment interviews (and they don't call you back) and in casual conversations about the source of your professional training. It becomes a burden that you never sought or desired, but none the less, now have to live with for the rest of your life as an attorney.
The question is: Who owns the "Harvard" brand when the brand meaning and value is accrued to a host of beneficiaries? Does Harvard University/Law School have the sole discretion to change the meaning of their branding when it effects so many lives, or does it have inherent duties in regard to maintaining the meaning and value of the brand in continuity with the meaning and value that the beneficiaries purchased and have come to reasonably expect?
The Harvard brand you thought you were getting had a meaning and value of "quality academic reputation and scholarship", now it has a meaning of "gay fun in the sun, and study a bit."
Has their been a "taking," a misrepresentation, a fraud, a breach of implicit duties in having the meaning of your branding change?
Put another way:
Did any of you go to AMSL because you wanted to be associated with Tom Monaghan's Catholic Lifestyle Brand?
Does anyone remember when the history of AMSL was re-written to take the founding faculty out of it and recast AMSL as the sole project of Monaghan and Dobranski? Was this part of the rebranding of AMSL?
How many of you love to be asked about Tom Monaghan and Florida when you reveal where you went to law school? Did you come to AMSL to associate your career with this meaning and "value"?
How many of you feel betrayed and angry that you thought you were purchasing a distinctive Natural Law Catholic Legal Education "brand value" associated with the scholarship and reputation of men like Charles Rice and Judge Bork and located in the Midwest corridor of great legal institutions, and expectations and targets that were heading for tier 1 status; and got a pizza man Catholic nut job lifestyle brand in a Florida swamp and tier 4 instead?
This line of questions obviously presents a novel approach to claiming an injury, but one that deserves a closer look. Brand value is something that is definable and part of the contractual/beneficiary mix when approaching something like a law school. As alumni, we have a concrete interest in seeing that value grow and in protecting it from harm. Destroying that value is an injury to the alumni on a number of levels.
For example, the motto is Faith AND Reason, yet, now the Ave Maria lifestyle Catholic brand is associated with a very fringe version of faith and is associated with irrationality, i.e., fanaticism and wackyness.
What is the impact of this on our careers?
I remember the brief time when being a graduate from AMSL was considered admirable, laudatory and an opportunity to talk about what the Natural Law is and how important it is to our civil society; now I have to explain all things Ave Maria and the conversation turns away from a mission focus to a discussion about the catholic nut job pizza man and how I was never intentionally associated with him. I suffered through an interview once trying to convince them that I was not a fundamentalist socket boy, all because of Monaghan's lifestyle branding.
TM: “I think I made the statement that I - that the way the structure was of the - and partnership in the Ave Maria town is that the law school could not receive any funding from the joint venture unless it were located in the town.” [..]Q: “Who decided that it wouldn’t be supportive if it was here?”TM: “I think that was something that was a — one of the demands of our partner [Baron Collier Company].”
How deep does this go? What was the nature of the partnership? Did it place undue pressure on Ave Maria Foundation/Tom Monaghan, etc. to act against AMSL's best interest?
Under a contract theory, Collier could be considered liable along with Monaghan in his personal capacity. Is there is a case that puts forward a tort for 3rd party interference in a fiduciary duty to a non-profit that results in harm to the beneficiaries? If not, this would be a very compelling test case.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
The Non-Profit Risk Management Center tells us that non-profit Directors and Officers can be sued in some situations.
One of the myths associated with nonprofit D&O exposures is that there are few sources of claims since nonprofits don't have shareholders. While it is true that the vast majority of lawsuits filed against nonprofit boards are filed by current and former employees (alleging wrongful employment practices), nonprofits serve large and varied constituencies to which their boards owe specific fiduciary duties similar to duties owed by corporate boards. These constituencies are potential plaintiffs in legal actions brought against nonprofit boards. Potential claimants in a suit against nonprofit directors include:
Outsiders — Third parties that have a relationship with the nonprofit may allege harm caused by the nonprofit and/or its directors, officers or employees. Outside sources can be vendors, funders, or another nonprofit.
Beneficiaries — The people you are in business to help — your service recipients — may bring claims against directors and officers alleging wrongdoing.
Members — Directors and officers of membership associations are vulnerable to claims brought by members alleging harm to the interests of the member.
Each of these categories apply to alumni in one way or another. There is a contract theory approach that would claim a contractual relationship between student and AMSOL with on-going performance expectations. There is the approach that states we are beneficiaries of the non-profit, and as recipients, we have been injured due to wrong doing. The Alumni are members of an Alumni Association - we have a set of interests regarding our on-going association with AMSOL that was gravely and irreparably harmed by another member - namely Dean Dobranski.
"Q. And who would have been at the muster [meeting]?
A. People from various entities of the foundation.
Q. And what do you mean by that, "various entities of the foundation"?
A. Could be Legatus, Thomas More, the law school, the college or the university."
I see. Various entities of the Foundation. Uh-huh. So either these are all separate entites run on their own with a loose financial tie to the Foundation, or the Foundation acts as an umbrella entity, or something akin to a parent company. Which is it? I tend to believe the version that comes out when the deponent is focusing on not answering some other question. When his attention is on carefully choosing his words on some other topic, we get a bit of what he really thinks on a more fundamental issue.
The Columbo routine is wearing a bit thin for a guy who views all these enterprises as ones under his Foundation's control, don't you think?
Monaghan: "It's the fastest growing part of the fastest growing large state in the union."
Is that true today or at the time the decision was made to go to Florida?
Monaghan: "I don't know about today, but it was at the time."
Is Monaghan correct? AveWatch doesn't think so.
It seems that he is going that way.
P. 225: Monaghan has been coached with the proper talking points. During questioning about Prof. Rice's concerns about the move to Florida, Monaghan states "A: My motivation was that I thought it was best interests of the law school to move there." I don't understand why Monaghan's conflict of interest is not patently obvious to everyone. Even assuming that the move to Florida is truly in the best interests of AMSL, Monaghan is in no position to make a decision about the move because he has other significant financial and personal interests in Florida. It's ridiculous to think that Monaghan, or Dobranski, or the members of the Board of Governors didn't see this and say "Tom, for at least the appearance of propriety, you are not in a position to decide the law school's future."
P. 225: Monaghan gives the talking points why Collier County is the best place to move a law school:
A: It's the fastest growing part of the fastest growing large state in the union.Great. Development in Florida has changed, but the school is still moving based on outdated economic projections. Remember, there was a time when Detroit was the fastest growing part of the fastest growing large state in the union, but we shouldn't be using those old economic figures.
Q: Collier County is the fastest growing?
Q: Is that true today?
A: I don't know about today, but it was at the time.
P. 226: Monaghan then gives another reason for Collier County: "I believe it was the largest community in the country without a law school." I really don't like this reason, because it is so disingenous, a post hoc rationalization. Monaghan doesn't like Collier County because there are no other law schools there; he likes Collier County because his other interests are also in Collier County and he wants all of his interests in one place.
P. 228: Another reason for Collier County from Monaghan: "I think being associated with -- on the campus of Ave Maria University, which I expect to be an outstanding Catholic university, would be a lot of synergy, as well as a major feeder school for the law school of outstanding candidates." Ugh. He used the word "synergy." This most meaningless and banal explanation for the benefits in Florida has been parroted by the administration, and it turns my stomach every time I hear it.
Pp. 228-231: Monaghan admits that he had AMSL over a financial barrel:
A: I think I made the statement that I -- that the way the structure was of the -- and partnership in the Ave Maria town is that the law school could not receive any funding from the joint venture unless it were located in the town.Whoa. This is huge. A completely separate real estate development company is making demands on Monaghan ("We [Baron Collier Co.] will only give you [Monaghan] money if you get the law school to move to Florida."), and Monaghan is turning around and making demands on the Board of Governors ("I [Monaghan] will only give money to you [AMSL] if the law school moves to Florida.") Astonishing.
Q: So, did you -- so, then you did take the position that if the law school would not be moved to Collier County, the foundation would cease further funding?
A: I think I too the position that if it doesn't, I may not be able to afford to continue to fund it.
Q: Couldn't you use partnership assets to fund the law school here just as easily as there?
Q: Why not?
A: Because the agreement didn't allow it.
Q: Why not?
A: Because it didn't. Why would they want to get into a partnership with us for something in -- for something in some other part of the country?
Q: Who decided that it wouldn't be supportive if it was here?
A: I think that was something that was a -- one of the demands of our partner.
Q: Who is your partner?
A: That would be Barron Collier Company.
Pp. 237-238: This has been mentioned in the comments, and it's too funny not to be in a main post:
Q: By the way, who do you think is more knowledgeable on law school administration? Professor Rice or yourself?Monaghan wants to have his cake and eat it too: he feigns igorance about the bylaws, structure, actions, procedures of the Board of Governors and continually downplays his role on the Board ("The Board is in charge of the law school, not me; I don't do anything as Chairman, Dobranski runs everything.") -- yet, Monaghan keeps on expressing supreme confidence in his own abilities and in his understanding of how AMSL should be run.
A: Bernie Dobranski.
Q: I didn't -- I didn't ask that. I said Professor Rice or yourself?
A: I think I'm more knowledgeable about administration and organization than Charlie Rice.
Q: I said, "law school administration."
A: Well, maybe that would be a toss up. I don't know.
P. 238: The extent of Monaghan's educational background is only "half a year of college."
P. 243: Monaghan admits enrollment is down, now to 127 students.
Q: Am I correct that you lowered your academic standards to get the 127?P. 245: Questioning on scholarship levels.
A: That would be accurate.
Q: You had to pay more money for scholarships that year, too, didn't you?What does Monaghan mean? Are there fewer people on scholarships? Has the total amount of money given for scholarships lower? Have student standards for scholarship eligibility been lowered? Does anyone have any inside knowledge on these questions which you can share with us in the comments?
A: Which year?
Q: As the years have gone by in order to get students to enter your doors?
A: I'd say paying less scholarships.
Q: I'm sorry?
A: Paying less scholarships.
Q: You're having fewer scholarships?
A: Paying less. The discount --
Q: I don't know what the means.
A: The discount rate was -- has been lowered.
P. 247: Monaghan gives the figure of "$50, $60 million" as a rough estimate for the limit of money he (or the Ave Maria Foundation) can give to AMSL or AMU.
Pp. 249-250: Funny exchange between Monaghan and Plaintiffs' attorney about the weather in northern and southern climates. The exchange starts off by Monaghan losing his cool and, out of the blue, firing a question at the attorney:
A: Have you looked at the weather outside here and what it's like?Pp. 253-254: Discussion concering the Lord survey. Monaghan is read a Charlie Rice memo, quoting Mr. Lord himself who states that the Lord survey does not include an assessment of the viability of AMU as an educational institution in Florida.
Q: I'm sorry?
A: Do you want to know the weather report for Florida today versus here?
Q: I know the weather report for Florida today versus here. My daughter is down there. So, I've been tracking it. But what that has to do with creating a good law school, I have not a clue.
A: Well, I think that it has a lot to do with it.
Q: I would suggest to you that the south has lacked significantly behind the north from day-one in education at all levels with a couple of exceptions. Very limited exceptions. You'll find, as I think you know, the top notch universities and law schools in the United States are in cold weather climates, Mr. Monaghan.
A: That's because they were opened before the invention of air conditioning.
Q: Isn't that why you hired an expert to do a feasibility study? Wasn't that the whole point of the Lord study?Pp. 261-262: Interesting discussion on funding promises to the ABA. Would the ABA agree with Monaghan's position, I wonder? (At the end of the deposition, Plaintiffs' attorney states that the documents submitted to the ABA haven't been turned over to Plaintiffs yet. I hope that Plaintiffs have gotten those documents by now.)
A: I assume so.
Q: Okay. So, why would you not ask them to look at the viability of Ave Maria University as an educational institution in Florida?
A: I don't know.
Q: Did the foundation take a position with the ABA as to its support of Ave Maria School of Law?That's it for Monaghan's February 19, 2008 deposition. I suspect we may see more, so stay tuned!
A: I don't believe I made any commitments.
Q: Did you take a position with the ABA as to the kind of funding you would be prepared to continue to provide with the ABA?
A: I did not -- I don't believe I made any type of commitment to the ABA regarding funding.
A: I don't remember now, but there was no financial commitment of the nature that has been bandied about since. The ABA may have asked for that, but they didn't get it.
Q: And didn't the ABA rely on the fact that they believed you would provide at least partial funding?
A: They may have certainly hoped I would have provided the adequate funding.
Q: Do you know -- you signed off on the ABA papers. Do you know what they said?
A: I don't believe it said that I would provide any specific amount.
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