The dean of the DePaul University College of Law, Glen Weissenberger, has been removed. But this doesn’t sound like your ordinary law school administration shuffle. Dean Weissenberger alleged that there was a significant mistake in the documents DePaul sumbitted to the ABA for its accreditation review, and now he is gone.
The university provost told the faculty and staff yesterday:
Dear College of Law Faculty and Staff,
I write today to inform you that there will be a change in leadership at the College of Law effective immediately. At my recommendation, the president and I have removed Glen Weissenberger as dean and hired a new interim dean who will be announced soon.
I can assure you that this decision, which is being made in the best interests of our students and the College of Law, was made only after long and careful thought and consideration. I respect all you have accomplished under Glen’s leadership. However, the working relationship between the dean and the administration had deteriorated to the point where it had become difficult to accomplish the college’s work, hence my recommendation to the president for this action.
Our faculty and staff are the lifeblood of the College of Law, and I recognize that you have a right to be informed about why I made this difficult decision. I invite all faculty and staff to attend a private meeting at [Redacted] where I will answer questions to the best of my ability, recognizing that this is, in part, a personnel matter and I will not be able to answer all inquiries.
We have selected a highly qualified and respected member of the legal community to serve as interim dean, ensure a smooth transition and continue the momentum you have given to the college. I look forward to making an announcement about the candidate in the very near future.
We reached out to Dean Weissenberger and his response suggested that this situation is far beyond a mere administrative disagreement.
Details after the jump. And an update.
Dean Weissenberger’s response to his ouster emphasized that he had done nothing wrong, but also reminded his students not to feel sorry for him:
I want to thank you for your many e-mails and telephone messages offering support in regard to my termination as dean.
First, Julie and I are doing fine. After surviving cancer, this is nothing!
Second, I want to assure you that I was not terminated for any wrong doing of any kind. My termination was based specifically on a letter I sent to the ABA supplementing information which the ABA already received. I was told by the ABA that I had a duty to submit this information immediately because the Accreditation Committee is meeting next week. I gave notice to the University that I would be filing the separate letter. I am attaching a copy of the letter, because it is part of the record in our ABA accreditation process.
The letter Dean Weissenberger referred to suggests that there was a significant mistake in the numbers DePaul communicated to the ABA. Here is what Dean Weissenberger sent to the ABA:
I write to apprise the Accreditation Committee that it currently has information about the law school’s Retention Margin that is inaccurate. This matter has been central to the law school’s accreditation since the 2001 inspection.
Paragraphs (71) through (76) regarding “Finances” of the July 22, 2008 Decision of the Accreditation Committee are no longer accurate. Consistent with our exchange of e-mails, I believe I have an obligation to promptly advise the Accreditation Committee of any statements in its June 22, 2008 Report that are not accurate. Also, our May 1, 2009 submission to the Committee did not address the pertinent issues, and as such, it communicates the erroneous proposition that the University administration and the College of Law have reached an agreement on the matter of the “Margin Agreement.” In fact, we have not. Again, I believe I have a duty to correct this misinformation as soon as it is recognized.
But there also seems to be a power struggle going on between the outgoing dean and Provost Epp:
An explanation of the issues are fully explained in the attached two memoranda recently sent to the Provost. The Provost has not responded to these memoranda.
The absence of a clearly defined process surrounding the distribution of the margin funds, and the uncertainty of receiving these funds, seriously impair the law school’s ability to further its mission and maintain the quality of its program. The amount of funds at issue is substantial. These funds would be used to advance several goals identified in our Strategic Plan.
Dean Weissenberger seems to have the students on his side in this fight with the university.
Above the Law has obtained an email that was sent out by the DePaul Student Bar Association. The SBA does not sound happy about the university’s decision:
It saddens me to bear the news that Dean Weissenberger has been removed as dean by the University’s Administration as of yesterday, June 18th. It has upset many of us and has disheartened us that the University has made this decision. Though the University’s reasoning has been vague, it is common knowledge that the University has always been resistant to Dean Weissenberger’s initiatives to improve our law school. For example, the University’s Board of Trustees has thwarted Dean Weissenberger’s efforts to increase the law school’s space, funding and endowment, and has turned deaf ears on Dean Weissenberger’s vocal support for the law school. By stating that their “working relationship with the Dean has deteriorated” and
unilaterally firing him, it would seem the University is no longer interested in hearing any more of these suggestions.
As you know, Dean Weissenberger has advocated for great change to our law school and has been an ardent supporter of the student body. Currently many of the faculty and staff have expressed their support for Dean Weissenberger and will continue to unite on his behalf. The
SBA itself has pledged its unconditional support for Dean Weissenberger, and I encourage all of you to join us in showing your support.
In the following days the SBA Executive Board will be meeting with faculty to establish an initiative and will attempt to meet with the University board to express our discontent and voice our concerns. I truly believe that together, united, we can be heard. We can impart to the University that their decision has been a large step backwards and may have a profoundly negative impact on our law school. We must show the University that we are steadfast and resolute in our commitment towards the improvements that our law school so desperately needs.
Please share this with your colleagues and classmates. If you have any concerns, comments, or questions, please do not hesitate to contact myself or any SBA member. Thank you and I hope for your support.
Wow. This sounds like a great situation for the new dean to walk into. I wonder who even wants the job? Is Rod Blagojevich still available?
We’ll keep you posted. We don’t think we’ve heard the last from (former) Dean Glen Weissenberger.
Update (3:30): Brian Leiter has additional coverage of the Weissenberger situation.
The ABA documents are here: Download DePaul ABA. It’s a lengthy set of materials, but I believe the following is an accurate summary: the College of Law at DePaul was entitled to 75% of its tuition revenues under an ABA-enforced agreement between the College and the University Administration; the University has repeatedly breached this agreement. Professor Weissenberger challenged the University’s failure to honor the agreement. Now he’s been fired.
Also, the DePaul SBA has started a website for students and faculty to speak out in support of Weissenberger. United for Weissenberger.
This is starting to sound like a Dead Poet situation.
Update (4:50): And now there is a Facebook group for the dean. When is Richard Engel heading to DePaul?
Glen Weissenberger letter to ABA.doc [Word.doc]
DePaul Provost Ousts Law Dean Without Consulting Faculty, Plans to Appoint an Outsider as Interim Dean [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]
Earlier: Will Robert Post Be the Next Yale Law Dean?
Martha Minow Named New Dean of Harvard Law School