December 28, 2010
Command and Control at DePaul University: Is DePaul Law's New Dean a Glutton for Punishment?
"Announcing the new Dean three days before Xmas when no one is around actually is *Not* normal......but that's what DePaul University has done," wrote Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter about the timing of the announcement that Gregory Mark, Vice Dean, Professor of Law and Justice Nathan L. Jacobs Scholar, Rutgers-Newark, was appointed the new dean of DePaul Law. Well, it certainly was politically expedient, if DePaul University Provost Helmut Epp wanted to leave the building quietly and quickly to avoid expected criticism from the DePaul Law community over this appointment. You see faculty and staff at DePaul University are on Christmas break. Essentially, DePaul is not "open for business" right now.
Why expect criticism? In DePaul Names New Law School Dean, Rejecting Choice of 90% of the Faculty, Cincinnati Law prof Paul Caron reports:
DePaul Provost Helmut Epp repeatedly assured the faculty over the past two years that he would honor its wishes in the selection of a permanent Dean. The dean search committee presented four finalists to the faculty, and the faculty voted two of the candidates as acceptable: Dean Mark and current DePaul Associate Dean Brian F. Havel. The faculty then voted 35-4 in favor of the universally respected and admired Associate Dean Havel, who is ideally situated to heal the rift between the administration and law school.
The timing of the announcement of Dean Mark's appointment three days before Christmas, when most faculty and students are away from the law school, appears designed to quell protest of the decision and to make the appointment a fait accompli when classes resume Jan. 10. The DePaul administration's actions are especially disheartening for a Catholic university, dedicated to the Vincentian ideal of loving God through serving others: "the DePaul community is above all characterized by ennobling the God-given dignity of each person."
For one illustration of the fallout over DePaul University's heavy-handed actions during this still on-going fiasco, see the DePaul Law faculty resolution upon the announcement of the interim dean appointment after DePaul fired its by all accounts very popular and productive Law Dean here.
No one is saying or implying that incoming Dean Gregory Mark is not qualified for the appointment or that the appointment violated ABA requirements but as Dan Fuller, Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs and Professor of Law, Drexel Law, wrote in DePaul Law Hires New Dean, Reignites Agita:
[W]hile some universities can get away with ignoring a mere preference, DePaul...having been through the ringer in the past couple of years might have benefited from being a little more deferential towards its faculty.
Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter adds:
It would have been prudent, of course, for the DePaul Provost to have deferred to the faculty preference in this instance, given the sordid history, but Provost Epp is not notable for his prudence or his judgment. As Caron notes (and as we expected), several DePaul faculty are weighing outside offers. Incoming Dean Mark will have his work cut out for him, to put it mildly.
Caron writes "[Mark] presumably did not know the full facts about the situation at DePaul before accepting the deanship. Now that several faculty have provided him with more information, he hopefully will work with the administration and faculty to find a solution." I have to think Mark knew enough about the situation to conclude that his acceptance of this appointment is indicative of being a glutton for punishment. Perhaps that's what it is going to take. Good luck.
Anyone have any idea when Provost Epp will retire? Since the position of university provost is oftentimes filled by someone tasked to do a university's dirty work, would a change in DePaul University's command and control structure at the provost level even matter? As an alumnus of DePaul (not Law) and former full-time library employee (also not Law) at DePaul, I hope but am not holding my breath that the relationship between the University and its Law School will improve any time soon. We will just have to wait and see what the University promised its new Law dean to accept this appointment and whether it fulfills its promise to the new dean. [JH]
For some background on the DePaul Law fiasco, see these earlier LLB posts:
- Honesty Not the Best Policy at DePaul: Law Dean Fired for Disclosing Required Information to ABA Accreditation Committee; Associate Dean Resigns in Protest (June 22, 2009)
- Interim Dean of DePaul Law Appointed (June 22, 2009)
- Another Shoe Drops at DePaul: How Many More to Come? (July 30, 2009)
- Another Chapter in the "Papist" Administration of DePaul Law (Sept. 10, 2010)