Disasters / Emergencies, Law Schools

Alabama Law Dean: Efficient Manager or Callous Task Master?

Yesterday, we devoted some coverage to the devastation down in Alabama due to the terrible storms there earlier this week. In the National Law Journal, Karen Sloan has an excellent report about how the tornadoes are affecting operations at the University of Alabama, including its law school.

It appears that the storms affected the college more than the law school. But we are hearing students at Alabama law complaining that Dean Kenneth Randall is pushing too hard to maintain a normal schedule.

We understand that finals at the college have been postponed indefinitely. But at the law school, tests are supposed to resume Monday.

Whether or not that is the correct decision, Dean Randall’s method for communicating his directives has rubbed some students the wrong way…

We’ve received a number of complaints from Alabama Law readers, but this one seems to sum them up:

I’m a law student at the University of Alabama. We are currently recovering from a tornado that caused unimaginable destruction…

This is an email from our ever-so-sensitive dean, who is telling law students to disregard the University-wide emails (canceling finals and telling students to get out of town) and insisting that he has “jurisdiction” over the law school and its exams, which are going on as planned. All this is in spite of widespread destruction, death, and warnings that crime is going to spike, prompting a city-wide curfew.

Dean Randall’s email is, well, curt:

From: Kenneth C. Randall
To: UALaw 1Ls 2Ls 3Ls, LLM, and JD-MBA students
Subject: Exams

It is possible that the University of Alabama will send information concerning exams. You should disregard that information. My emails on examinations are controlling.

All right big man, it’s cool, it’s cool. We all respect your authority. I think the issue here is that regardless of whether or not the Alabama law facilities are in good shape, the students themselves have been through the wringer. They can’t possibly be focused on finals just right now.

We reached out to Alabama Law and haven’t received an official response. But tipsters have informed us that Alabama Law students were just informed that they will be able to take exams remotely and take them Pass/Fail if they would like.

That’s still not as good as the deal for undergraduates (or the business school, which tipsters tell us also has its exams postponed), but at least it’s something. As one tipster put it: “I just wanted to get the hell out of Tuscaloosa.”

Good luck, Alabama Law students. I guess you shouldn’t let the death and destruction distract you from getting good grades.

UPDATE: After our post went up, well, we still haven’t had any official communication from Alabama Law. But other Alabama Law students are stepping up with additional information, painting a kinder, gentler picture of Dean Randall. Here’s what people are telling us was Dean Randall’s initial response:

We are keeping the law school building open for students who need a place to stay throughout the night. Lights are on on the ground floor. Food will be available. The SBA President Cecily Aleem and Assoc Dean Jenelle Marsh also are at the law school. The first year Con Law exam is postponed until Saturday 9:00 am. We are postponing tomorrow’s upper level exams and will announce their new dates as soon as possible.

Please visit also the UA website. It also indicates places to stay tonight. My cell is [redacted] if you need anything.

Personal cell phone number. That’s nice. And here’s another tipster report:

The Dean has been at the law school non-stop taking care of things and his response has been actually very impressive. As you can see, he even gave his cell phone number to everyone in case they need anything.

All upper level exams are floating (meaning that students can take them on their own schedule, as opposed to having a strict schedule), starting once power is restored, with the deadline to turn in exams extended to May 18th. There is an option to take exams Pass/Fail. Professors will grade and curve the exams without knowing about a student’s P/D/F election; the registrar will convert the grades of those using the P/F election afterwards, leaving the other exams’ grades intact.

Well, that’s great. Though it’s still unclear why the law school is pushing forward with exams (floating though they may be) while other UA schools are having them postponed indefinitely.

Law school recovering from massive tornado [National Law Journal]

Earlier: Severe Weather Open Thread: Everybody Alright Down There?

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