In battles between university presidents and law deans, the university president always wins. The university presidents have the backing of boards of trustees who barely know what is going on. Law deans usually don’t have the ear of the powerful people who actually make decisions about how universities are run.
But not this time; this time everybody loses. The dean who challenged his president is no longer the dean, but the president is now no longer a university president. And the law students… well, they were probably screwed a long time ago…
I’ve written more about the University of Wyoming this month than I thought I would in my entire life. First, Wyoming Law Dean Stephen Easton resigned from his post, sending out a scathing letter questioning the policies of the University of Wyoming’s president, Robert Sternberg. Later, it came out that Sternberg has allegedly been trying to set up the law school and the university as incubators for Big Oil interests. The school’s provost and four deans have resigned since Sternberg took over on July 1st.
Then there was a “town hall meeting” that turned into a debate between Sternberg and the former law dean. Well, it turned into a debate about whether or not they should be having a debate. Easton wanted to go after Sternberg, saying “I’m prepared to lay out my case as to why you have not treated this law school ethically.” But Sternberg was having none of it; he just wanted to explain himself without having to really defend it.
Again, university presidents always win in this situation — except this time. Last week, Sternberg tendered his resignation to the Wyoming Board of Trustees. When the president of the Board of Trustees, David Bostrom, read Sternberg’s resignation statement to a crowd, people started laughing. From the Wyoming Tribune Eagle:
Bursts of laughter rose from the crowd as University of Wyoming Board of Trustees President David Bostrom read former UW President Bob Sternberg’s resignation statement.
“It (UW) might not be the best fit for me as president,” the statement reads.
That’s gotta be the understatement of the year.
Bostrom said that he didn’t ask Sternberg to resign, and he stands behind all of the decisions made under Sternberg’s watch. Of course, what the hell is he supposed to say? “Umm… well this has been a dung fire. Maybe I should spend less time in Jackson Hole and more time paying attention to this school?”
Hey, who’s excited to apply to the University of Wyoming College of Law? There’s nothing that prospective law students like more than administrative uncertainty during a time of economic upheaval.
UW President Sternberg resigns [Wyoming Tribune Eagle]