Critics of Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell won’t have Dean Mitchell to kick around any more — at least for now. The embattled dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, accused in a lawsuit of retaliating against a Case faculty member who blew the whistle on alleged sexual harassment by Dean Mitchell, is taking a temporary leave of absence.
Dean Mitchell and the university haven’t commented much on the allegations of Professor Raymond Ku’s complaint (which was recently amended to add some juicier allegations). The university did issue a statement denying that retaliation occurred, and the dean told the Case community to keep calm and carry on.
To make that process easier, he’s stepping away from his deanly duties for a time. Let’s check out his announcement….
(Please note the UPDATE added at the end of this post.)
Here’s the email that went out to the Case community at around 7 a.m. today (click to enlarge):
To Faculty, Staff, and Students:
The past two and a half years have been a time of great progress and achievement for our law school. The recent initiation of litigation against the university and me, however, has proven to be a distraction to all of us.
In order to allow us to continue the work we have begun without further disruption, I have asked the university to permit me to take a temporary leave of absence. This will allow the university to conduct its independent review of this matter. I am confident that this review will be done expeditiously and that this review, again, will affirm that neither I nor the university have done anything wrong or improper. I am also confident that it will put this behind us. I intend to take full advantage of the legal process to seek justice.
We have dramatically improved admissions efforts, broadened our global reach, and developed and implemented an innovative new curriculum. The momentum is just beginning. I look forward to continuing our work together. Thank you for all that you have done, and all that you will do.
Dean Mitchell’s email speaks for itself, but we did receive comment from Subodh Chandra, counsel to the plaintiff, Professor Raymond Ku: “We are cautiously optimistic from Dean Mitchell’s ‘leave’ announcement that the University has finally accepted that it needs to put some daylight between it and this dean. If the University is at long last genuinely investigating the allegations about Dean Mitchell’s pattern of behavior, then better late than never.”
But that’s not the only possible interpretation of Dean Mitchell’s leaving the building. It could very well be that he wants a temporary respite from his work as dean so he can focus his considerable energies on “tak[ing] full advantage of the legal process to seek justice.” You can say a lot of things about Dean Mitchell, but don’t call him a wimp. Instead, according to allegations in the amended complaint, he is the self-proclaimed “dictator” of Case Western Law.
Will this “dictator” remain in power, or will he ultimately be toppled? Stay tuned. If you have anything you’d like to share with us, please feel free to email us or text us (646-820-8477).
UPDATE (10:30 a.m.): This message went out at around 9:30 a.m. today:
To the Faculty and Staff of the School of Law:
President Snyder and Provost Baeslack will meet with faculty and staff at noon today (Wednesday, Nov. 6) in Room A58. They will discuss recent developments involving the school and also take your questions.
Vice President for University Marketing and Communications
and Senior Adviser to the President
Case Western Reserve University
Interesting. The fact that the president and provost are getting involved suggests that the university is taking the situation quite seriously. Also, note the sender: the university-wide VP for marketing and communications. Is handling of the Mitchell situation now taking place at the university level rather than the law school level?
“I AM A DICTATOR.” [The Belly of the Beast]
Earlier: Lawsuit Accuses Prominent Law School Dean Of Sexual Harassment (And More)
Larry Mitchell’s Response To Sexual Harassment Allegations? ‘I encourage you to give your full attention to classes.’