You might remember the story of brave Philip Closius. He is the former dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law. He gets to be called “brave” because he went down fighting for the financial security of his students and future UB Law students in the face of another university president who treated the law school like a cash cow.
Dean Closius might have lost his individual battle with University of Baltimore President Robert L. Bogomolny, but he may have won the war.
Today, Baltimore announced a plan to give its law school an extra $5,000,000 to play with….
In a letter to University of Baltimore students, President Bogomolny and interim law school dean F. Michael Higginbotham announced a new budget for the UB Law School:
To UB Law students:
As part of the ongoing effort to build the University of Baltimore and the UB School of Law, we have articulated a five-year budget commitment to support the law school’s future development.
This commitment targets a $5 million increase in the School of Law’s base operating budget over the next five years and includes the following principles:
* The University will work to keep future law school tuition increases as small as possible.
* The current operating budgets of UB’s other colleges, school and administrative units will not be reduced as a result of the law school budget understanding.
* The University remains committed to implementing a multiyear faculty hiring plan and to investing in all of its colleges, schools and administrative units.
We would like to recognize the School of Law’s faculty budget committee, chaired by Professor Michael Meyerson, for its partnership in crafting the law school budget understanding. In addition, law student representative Paul Snyder assisted the process by sharing student input with the committee. The collaboration among the committee, students and senior leadership was rooted in an appreciation of the goals of both the School of Law and the University.
The UB School of Law is entering a transformative period—one marked by new leadership, a new home and a renewed dedication to meeting the challenges of 21st-century legal education. The school is well-positioned to build upon the considerable progress of the past decade, which has included faculty growth, increased student scholarships, and enhanced distinction in legal education.
We hope this work can inform the University’s ongoing budget discussions and lead to similar collaborations across the institution.
Robert L. Bogomolny
F. Michael Higginbotham
Interim Dean, School of Law
It’s too bad this message didn’t include a line like: “We’d also like to recognize Dean Closius, who publicly shamed us into doing the right thing.”
This is how change happens, folks. It happens when men of principle are willing to sacrifice something. I’m sure Closius could have continued to be law school dean so long as he kept his mouth shut when the university used law school money to fund other programs while raising tuition on law students. I’m sure that would have worked out just fine for Closius and his family.
But when men of principle are willing to risk a little more than public discomfort, when they are willing to put their jobs and their careers on the line, then things can happen.
This might have been a minor victory for the students at UB Law. An extra $5 million that the university will allow the law school to keep and a vague promise to hold the line on tuition is not much. But it is a victory, one that a man had to be willing to lose his job to secure.
If there are maybe 200 other law school deans out there who are willing to risk their jobs to protect their students, we might really get somewhere.