Wednesday, May 02, 2007

What's going on at Ave Maria Law?

Alan Childress & Jeff Lipshaw, over at the Legal Profession blog, pointed me to this story: Crisis at Ave Maria Law. Over on their blog, I've suggested that we don't know the whole story and that we likely never will--and that a rush to judgment in favor of either the administration or the faculty is a bad idea. (See Things aren't looking great for Ave Maria these days....)

In terms of MoneyLaw lessons, I think that the brouhaha at Ave Maria raises the issue of a school's mission and of whether the majority of the faculty must buy into the school's stated mission in order for the school to run smoothly. My guess is that the faculty at Ave Maria views the school's mission very differently from the way that the administration views it.

At Houston, we had a choice of having the traditional, non-specific, not-very-useful mission statement (we'd teach well, do interesting research, and serve our community--as if every other law school didn't do those things, too) or we could try to be more specific and UHLC-centered. As part of our strategic plan, we went for the latter option, which was a pleasant surprise to me.

That certainly helped us w/our external audiences: the University, the bar, prospective students, and (perhaps) our alumni. I don't think that having a specific mission statement--in and of itself--helps with the internal audiences unless the dean actually makes choices about resources based on that mission statement. Every discussion in a school is hypothetical unless resource allocation is part of the discussion.

As for the problems facing Ave Maria itself, my heart goes out to everyone there. These crises are often life-changing for those involved. I know that I'm still experiencing some post-2006 effects of my time at Houston, and I'll bet that I'm not the only one.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some good food for thought re: Mission statements and the contractual nature of professors and administrations.

5/02/2007 12:27 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey Harrison said...

My impression of this is that a good default position is:

1. Do not trust faculty versions of any story pertaining to a dean.
2. Do not trust a dean to play it straight with information, particularly statistics.

And, wasn't there an AASL or ABA inspection?

5/02/2007 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I was suspicious of Ave Maria Law from the beginning. Former Domino's Pizza owner and former Detroit Tigers owner opens a law school in the "Catholic tradition." The things that are being done to the faculty there are "classic" Tom Monaghan. I am not surprised. What I am surprised about is how this school got ABA and AALS approval. There is no need for another law school in southeastern Michigan (you already have U Mich, Wayne State, and U Detroit-Mercy) in a depressed economy. There are two other schools in the middle of the state (DCL-MSU, Cooley) and none in the western part of that state (Cooley has an extension program in Grand Rapids). If anything, the school should have been in the Grand Rapids area. But I digress. The main point is that this law school received accreditation without a public mission, and with no general need for another law school in the immediate geographic area. This is a private school, created by a man who has proven to be somewhat duplicitous in his past business dealings, in order to push his personal religious agenda. I feel a bit bad for the faculty; no one should have to go through what they are going through, but they should have done their research first to determine what type of institution they were joining.

5/04/2007 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really see the relevance of questioning the existence of a "need for a law school in southeastern Michigan" as it relates to getting ABA approval. I have never heard that a "need" was a deciding factor in this decision. At least in the past, Ave Maria has outperformed all other Michigan law schools in important areas, including the U of Michigan (at least in part). Getting ABA approval should hardly be surprising for Ave Maria.

6/03/2007 8:28 PM  
Blogger AveMariaAlum said...

People who are mad often fume; people who are not mad are usually silent.

When the fuming reaches a certain point, those who have been silent feel the need to speak up in some fashion to ensure the madding crowd that fumes is not given undue attention:

7/09/2007 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my boyfriend graduated from Ave last year (May 2008)...what the issue is that Monaghan wants and is building (Ave Maria "town") a Catholic haven in the swamps of Florida...all professors not wanting to join his mission were told they could leave or be fired immediately. If you witnessed that graduation ceremony, many students by-passed shaking hands with the acting dean and Monaghan and instead went over to the faculty and shook their hands. Many students also wore ribbons in support of the teachers who were told to leave.

6/18/2009 10:46 AM  

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