Washington and Lee Law logo.JPGEarlier this month, we mentioned that Washington and Lee Law School Dean Rodney Smolla was a candidate to become the new President of Furman University. Well, Dean Smolla got the job and he is taking it:

Dear Washington and Lee Faculty, Students, Staff, and Alumni:
This afternoon, Furman University will announce that I have been named as the next President of Furman, effective on July 1, 2010. Serving as the dean of the Washington and Lee School of Law has been a great honor and privilege. I am proud of the faculty, students, staff, and alumni, for their commitment to excellence, and their courage in forging a new direction for legal education in the United States. I am confident that through the continued dedication of the entire Washington and Lee Law School community, and the unflagging support of the University, Washington and Lee will continue to prosper as a leader in American legal education, scholarship, and public service.

Law School deans leave for other opportunities all the time. But based on the Above the Law inbox, you’d think Dean Smolla pulled a Brian Kelly and abandoned his students just a few weeks before the biggest game of the year.
Students wring their hands after the jump.


Over on Tax Prof Blog, Paul Caron explains why Dean Smolla’s departure is big news to the Washington & Lee community:

Dean Rodney A. Smolla, the driving force behind Washington & Lee’s innovative 3L curriular reform which is scheduled to begin in the 2010-2011 academic year,

Smolla’s soon-to-be-former students are in fact worried about what will become of Smolla’s innovative plans:

Everyone is generally worried, angry, and wondering about the 3rd year program. There have been conflicting reports of whether Smolla fought the faculty to get the program and is now bailing, or whether it was the faculty’s idea that Smolla took credit for.

Another student put it this way:

Needless to say, the students are up-in-arms at his audacity to change our school’s curriculum and then leave before it’s settled. Oh, and they had the decency to drop the news in the middle of exams (which we all needed).

Honestly, maybe I be watching too much college football, but it seems silly to me to go to a school based on what the coach (or the dean) tells you. Again, deans leave for better schools or better positions all the time. There is no loyalty but lack of options makes it so.
So Dean Smolla breezed in, proposed a bunch of changes and then got out before the ink was dry on his academic revolution? You know what, I’ll bet he leaves Furman University in a heartbeat if the President of Duke job opens up. And he’ll punk Duke a week later if an Ivy comes calling. It’s just how these jobs work.
Sure, you can buy into all this “community and family” bunk that deans spout when they are trying secure your tuition dollars. But that just makes you a little naive. Law school is a big business, and deans are going to do what they can to advance their careers.
Don’t hate the playa’, hate the game.
Read Dean Smolla’s full exit email below.
WASHINGTON & LEE — MEMO — DEAN SMOLLA
Dear Washington and Lee Faculty, Students, Staff, and Alumni:
This afternoon, Furman University will announce that I have been named as the next President of Furman, effective on July 1, 2010. Serving as the dean of the Washington and Lee School of Law has been a great honor and privilege. I am proud of the faculty, students, staff, and alumni, for their commitment to excellence, and their courage in forging a new direction for legal education in the United States. I am confident that through the continued dedication of the entire Washington and Lee Law School community, and the unflagging support of the University, Washington and Lee will continue to prosper as a leader in American legal education, scholarship, and public service.
Above all, I will miss the many friends I have made here. To my colleagues on the law faculty, I have been honored to serve with such an exceptional group of accomplished scholars, dedicated teachers, and passionate contributors to our profession and society. To my colleagues on the law school staff, I thank you for your professionalism, hard work, and good cheer. To my many alumni friends, I applaud your dedication and devotion to Washington and Lee over many generations. And to our students, whom I hold close to my heart, I urge you to remain confident that your Washington and Lee education will serve you well in these challenging times.
Sincerely,
Rod Smolla
W&L Dean Named President of Furman University [Tax Prof Blog]


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