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

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Law School Deans Being Removed, Or, Why Is Dobranski Still Dean?

In the comments, Devil's Advocate links to an interesting article at Above The Law about the Dean of DePaul College of Law being removed from his position. It looks like the Dean might have been unjustly ousted in a dispute with the university provost. But this reminds me of a Dean who, unlike the DePaul situation, should be ousted.

Back in November 2007, I wrote a post where I argued that a change of leadership was required for Ave Maria School of Law in order to restore confidence after news of AMSL's poor Bar passage performance:
When a football team goes on a terrible losing streak, who is to blame? Maybe it's the fault of the players; after all they're the ones playing poorly and losing all the games. Maybe it's the fault of the assistant coaches and trainers not doing their job. Or the fault of the scouts who are recruiting bad players. Or the fault of the offensive/defensive coordinators who are calling stupid plays. Sometimes, looking at all the circumstances objectively, it's not the fault of the head coach.

Yet, more often than not, it is the head coach who is fired. And the head coach rightfully deserves to be fired. Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for the team at every stage: recruitment, training, game strategy, motivation and morale building. The very fact that the team is losing creates a situation that demands the firing of the head coach. Losing creates a lack of confidence in the head coach's leadership and morale problems that can only be remedied by getting fresh blood into the head coach position.

Dobranski is the head coach of AMSL. Even assuming that Dobranski has done nothing wrong and that others are to blame for the poor Bar passage rate (like the students, as Dobranski suggests), the very fact that the school is losing means that Dobranski should be fired. Dobranski is ultimately responsible for how the team is going, and if it's losing, Dobranski needs to be removed and a fresh face needs to be made dean. That's the way to instill confidence and to get a new start.

The same argument can be said for the faculty's "no confidence" in Dobranski. Set aside who is more blameworthy or which side is right in the faculty-administration dispute. No matter who is to blame, it is a fact that that there is significant faculty no-confidence in Dobranski. This very fact means Dobranski should resign or be removed, because he is the leader of the faculty, and cannot effectively lead without their confidence.

AMSL is in turmoil, there is no confidence in the leadership, and our AMSL team is losing the Bar passage game with the other Michigan law schools. It doesn't matter who is to blame for this. A leadership change is required NOW.
Since November 2007, things haven't gotten any better for AMSL. On the contrary, things have gotten worse: AMSL has sunk deeper into the 4th Tier of the US News rankings. What has Dean Dobranski done to improve things since November 2007? Absolutely nothing, since he has been on continuous sick leave. Yet he remains Dean and President of AMSL. Why? Now, I wish that Dean Dobranski regains his health, but for the better part of two years, he has done nothing in his capacity of Dean and President, and there is no sign of him returning to AMSL. Regardless of what side of the AMSL controversy you find yourself on, regardless of whether you think Monaghan has acted rightly or not, regardless of whether you think the Florida move is a good thing for AMSL or not.... all of us should be able to agree that at this time of transition, it is more important than ever that AMSL have a leader who can articulate the mission of AMSL and who can inspire confidence in the school's future. Can everyone join me in calling for Dean Dobranski's resignation and the appointment of a new dean and president?