Monday, September 17, 2007
I just saw Scott Moss's analysis of the UC Irvine dean hiring-firing debacle, and something jumped out at me, but I wasn't able to nail it down in a quick surf through Google. This is not by way of justification, but my speculating on how a PR mess of this magnitude (and the missed judgment calls) comes to pass.
ABA Standard 201(a), which Scott doesn't cite, is about the money. I am too recently removing from the domain of lucre not to think about it first off. "The present and anticipated financial resources of a law school shall be adequate to sustain a sound program of legal education and accomplish its mission." I suspect the current contretemps at Ave Maria Law School in Ann Arbor is about the money - its major benefactor is Tom Monaghan, and what he wants has some impact on the school.
Here's what I'm wondering. I wasn't able to find UC Irvine's accreditation application on the internet, and I don't know if it is a public document. No doubt the promoter of any school has to show pro forma financial statements, and part of that would have to be private sources of funding. And I have no doubt that UC Irvine, despite its public status, will need an endowment. (Again, a quick Google search shows that one of Dean Edley's first priorities back in 2004 was beefing up Boalt's then $80 million endowment to a level comparable with other top public and private law schools.) As much or more than being a scholar or caring for the faculty, a dean, and particularly a dean of a startup school, needs to raise money. Was there a concern that a high profile liberal couldn't raise money (given that there are no alumni to tap) in conservative Orange County? Did someone who had already made a commitment threaten to pull money off the table? This is all speculation on my part, but that's what I'd suspect.