Law School Deans, Law Schools, Money, Southern New England School of Law/Umass

Dean of the New UMass Law School Resigns

I told you so.

Longtime Above the Law readers will remember the Southern New England School of Law. We extensively covered the purchase of that unaccredited private law school by the University of Massachusetts, which turned it into the state’s first public law school, renamed the UMass School of Law. I opposed the transition.

But nobody listened to me and the plans went forward, with UMass Law supporters talking about what a great thing the school would be for the people of Massachusetts. Just over a year ago, UMass Law Dean Robert Ward was crowing about the school’s re-opening and the record number of applications it received.

Today, Dean Ward is resigning, under a cloud of scandal….

The Boston Herald has the allegations:

The dean of state’s controversial new law school has resigned after allegedly using his state credit card for personal reasons, according to two University of Massachusetts sources.

Robert V. Ward Jr. was hired after University of Massachusetts board members approved the law school in 2010 despite fierce opposition from some legislators who were concerned about the new school’s cost to the state.

Ward’s salary is $200,000 a year, according to state records.

So the dean of the state’s public law school — the one that was supposed to produce the public interest lawyers of the future — makes $200K, but allegedly misused his state credit card? I don’t know guys, I find it hard to believe that an administrator at a law school could play fast and loose with money. That never happens.

In a statement to the Herald, Dean Ward cited other reasons for his departure:

The two-hour daily commute and the pressure of building a world-class law school have taken a terrible toll on my health and my family. I have held on as long as I reasonably could to see the new public Law School succeed, but the time has come when I truly need to concentrate solely on my deteriorating health and my family’s need for my presence.

Well, I hope the man is not sick. Even though he went on to say this:

I am proud of all we have accomplished during my tenure. I believe we have more than succeeded in our goals of establishing UMass Law as a center of excellence to break down the financial, geographical and temporal barriers to legal education. My focus has always been the best interest of the Law School. It must now be my health and my family. The Law School will always remain dear to me, and you know that you will always have my support.

Yeah, whatever. Anyway, in approximately five seconds people will start spinning about how the alleged misdeeds of one man, even if that man was the first dean of the school, shouldn’t reflect on the entire institution.

And they’d be right. It’s actually the deeds of the many, many people who support a school that charges $24,166/year for in-state tuition yet still acts like it is helping low-income students that reflect on the entire institution.

Sources: UMass law dean resigns over credit card flap [Boston Herald]

Earlier: How Much Is a Law School Worth?
UMass Law School is Open: Law Dean Robert Ward and I Talk About It
Umass Trustees Approve Plan for Public Law School
Law School Controller Embezzles Funds: Turns Out, This Is Still a Crime

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