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

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Reading the O'Bierne deposition from Thales' post and seeing the Vineyards campus instead of the promised campus at Ave Maria reminded me of something I saw a long time ago. Back when Dean Milhizer asked alumni to support the Transition Team, I recall one alum cc'ing several of us with the following email... Note the date -- this is TWO YEARS AGO:
[note: I altered the font sizes and cut things in order to get to the point that this email already predicted that the law school location had become a fluid variable of the school].
From: [an alum]
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 2:57 PM
To: Dean Mil.
Subject: RE: Transition Team

Dear Dean M[...],

Thank you for the opportunity to provide my input to this major task. I decided to think about this over the weekend, and consult many others because, I admit that at first I was at quite a loss for any constructive way I could help the law school in this matter.

I think you know that I care for the law school very deeply, as I am sure everyone does, and I thank you for acknowledging in formal form the sacrifices we underwent to help, each in our own way, this very uniquely missioned-law school. It was in considering what I did give up that I reached an epiphany as to how I can help the law school not just for the immediate need, but for long term.

[...talks about experience in contingency planning...]

In considering my past with the law school, it was only eight years ago that I [...] I also spent long hours talking to Dean Kenney. Perhaps it was intuition, but I asked a lot of questions as to why Ann Arbor was selected. I even asked in a joking manner during orientation why we weren't sitting on Miami Beach. But, despite the assessments of that time, we find that Florida provides all of those things now. Things change. I understand that and know how to make organizations ready for change. In short, we are where we are now, only seven years later.

Considering the current situation of the law school and the immediate needs to transition or suffer loss of operation, which is a severe outcome,
I think there needs to be some planning and thought put into law school preparedness for future transitions. Just as the assessment of Ann Arbor changed in seven years, I believe none of us can be sure that Florida will not present similar problems in the future that may cause us to need a list of alternative locations. Things change, after all. Inevitable change of variables requires good planning to prevent an emergency. I also say it is likely that Florida may present problems because there are a lot of variables out of the law school control. There is the environmental attention to the area developed.

At least one function of this standing transition preparedness team is constantly surveying money locations. I find it unfortunate that, although the Board sought a noble end and to distinguish the law school in its decision, the decision itself has changed the character of the law school forever.
The law school is now fluid and able to move where-ever the money is. Cooley Law School does that -- it seeks and builds campuses where the money is. Other law schools approach the problem by making the money come to them. The merits of both approaches are irrelevant to the reality that the law school is now a fluid organization that is willing to relocate to the money. Today, it is Mr. Monaghan that offers the money, who knows where tomorrow's major funds will be. As part of preparedness, we need to be studying where the money locations are on an ongoing basis now and rank them relative to each other, as well as have plans in place for each in case we receive similar ultimatums again.

Thus, I'd like to spearhead the standing transition preparedness team, if I may. I would be more than willing to provide my highly refined and sophisticated training to such a project especially so we will not encounter an emergency situation again with our pants down, so to speak.

Finally, and another unfortunate consequence of our situation as it is now, I find it necessary to point out that I am serious in my offer, especially for the reasons I state above. The law school now has made a choice to include location among variables that may be changed in order to improve the bottom line. Accordingly, we need to be assessing all location options in the future as better opportunities than the one presented to us today may recur in the future. In that event, we need to be ready to follow the money. Several other places, such as Credo magazine or others were not ready. Look where they are now. I don't want the law school to be caught unable to transition the next time there is an immediate need.
As for me, and seeing how the law school has indeed changed campus locations, I think this alumni's email should have been signed Q.E.D.