Law School Deans, Law Schools

What Might Have Happened at the Albany Law School Admissions Office

Yesterday we brought you a story about a law school from upstate New York. The pace is supposed to be a little slower and people’s lives are supposed to be a little less scandalous in that part of the state, at least compared to New York City. But all of that goes out the window when a law school apparently replaces almost all of its (well-respected) admissions staff, at a time when many members of the administration carry the word “interim” in their position titles.

Now some alumni are upset and threatening to withhold funds from the school (like they actually have any funds to withhold). You’re doing it wrong, Albany Law School.

When we reached out to David Singer, Albany Law’s Director of Communications & Marketing, he gave us a quick “no comment,” stating that the situation with the admissions office staff was “a personnel matter.” But our readers certainly weren’t short on comments, and we now believe we know more about what might have happened at the Albany Law School admissions office….

Shortly after we published our piece wondering what went down at the Albany Law admissions office, Interim President and Dean Connie Mayer sent this email to students at the school:

After over twenty years of dedicated service, Gail Bensen, Assistant Dean for Admissions, has resigned. We wish Dean Bensen well in her future endeavors. The search for Dean Bensen’s replacement will begin immediately.

Victoria J. Dutcher came on board today as our Interim Assistant Dean for Admissions. Victoria is formerly an admissions consultant and Vice-President with Noel-Levitz. She is currently the President of Williams & Company, a firm that provides executive search services and interim placements for enrollment managers. We look forward to working with Victoria over the next few months to find and transition a new Assistant Dean.

Talk about quick damage control. Albany Law probably could’ve controlled a little bit more damage if Singer had spilled the beans about the resignation of Gail Bensen (instead of refusing to comment). Singer opened the door for us to believe that the school had actually canned most or all of the admissions office staff, simply because he didn’t deny the allegations.

But if Bensen actually resigned, as the law school claims she did, what happened to the rest of the admissions office staff? And why was only one member of the previous staff left standing? Maybe Dean Mayer sought to cover the school’s ass instead of wishing Bensen well, because we received several tips from readers questioning the voluntary nature of Bensen’s departure. For example:

Last week the entire admissions staff was escorted out by security. This is in regards to a complaint/pending litigation by a current employee (the only one still listed on the site) in the admissions office regarding two colleagues (not the Asst. Dean, Gail Bensen) creating a hostile work environment. I have heard the comments regarded the weight of the individual.

The speculation is that the Board of Trustees/Administration may have approached Gail Bensen and asked her to fire the two individuals, and she refused, which caused everyone to get axed. But I am unsure of that.

From left to right: Gail Bensen, Ashley Fluster, Lisa Swartwood, Kimberley Hawley.

Did Bensen resign in lieu of firing Lisa Swartwood and Ashley Fluster? And if those girls were making comments about Kimberley Hawley’s weight, you’ve got to wonder why, since they’re pretty, but not exactly supermodel material. (The only thing I’d pick on is why Hawley’s hairstylist tried to make her look like a low-budget, upstate version of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl.)

If an actual lawsuit has been or will be filed, we’d love to see a copy of it. If a lawsuit didn’t materialize, and only the threat of one existed, this whole situation seems a bit unfair, don’t you think?

If you have any additions or corrections to our coverage, please email us (subject line: “Albany Law School”). Thanks.

Earlier: Previous ATL coverage of Albany Law School

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