The dismissal of Dean Glen Weissenberger after only two years into his second term has caused a upheaval at the law school where students and faculty have rallied around the popular dean. Weissenberger was reportedly fired on the recommendation of the provost, Helmut Epp.
Students and faculty have created a website to fight for their dean, here.
Epp informed the faculty that “the working relationship between the dean and the administration had deteriorated to the point where it had become difficult to accomplish the college’s work.”
An email to the faculty indicated that Weissenberger was terminated due to a letter he sent Tuesday to the American Bar Association in advance of a meeting of its accreditation committee next week. In the letter, Weissenberger told the committed that the revenue-sharing agreement between the university and the law school “frequently has been disregarded by the University.” He also forwarded a memo from June 12th where the law school was supposed to have access to 75 percent of net tuition revenues generated by the school, but he revealed that “in short order, the University breached the Margin Agreement.”
Here is a copy of the letter to the ABA, Glen Weissenberger letter to ABA
To make matter worse, Epp has hired a new interim dean from outside DePaul but has not named him or her.
This is a very familiar issue for many academics. At George Washington, we were one of the first law schools to openly agitate over the percentage cut of the university during accreditation. President Trachtenberg was taking a huge percentage of tuition dollars and the committee threatened our accreditation. It was well known that the faculty had leaked information to the committee. The result was an eventual deal to reduce the “cut” of the university.
Deans are in a strange position in such circumstances, not unlike cabinet members in a presidential administration. They are expected to represent the interests of the administration despite the view of most faculty that they are the protectors of academic freedom and the academic mission. Weissenberger is a rare example of a dean openly opposing the Administration on this issue. Usually, as at GW, it came indirectly from the faculty. However, he can claim a duty to respond to this standard inquiry in an honest manner.
The University is clearly wrong in his circumstance in my opinion and Weissenberger was right to fight for his law school. The University is equally wrong in picking an interim dean from outside the law school. Interim deans almost always come from the ranks of the faculty and guarantee a better transition to a new dean. This is truly the nuclear option for an Administration and will only undermine the law school. Even if they pick a new dean, the interim dean should be a current faculty member.
Weissenberger sent the following email to his school:
I want to thank you for your many e-mails and telephone messages offering support in
regard to my termination as dean.
First, Julie and I are doing fine. After surviving cancer, this is nothing!
Second, I want to assure you that I was not terminated for any wrong doing of any kind.
My termination was based specifically on a letter I sent to the ABA supplementing information
which the ABA already received. I was told by the ABA that I had a duty to submit this
information immediately because the Accreditation Committee is meeting next week. I gave
notice to the University that I would be filing the separate letter. I am attaching a copy of the
letter, because it is part of the record in our ABA accreditation process.
Here is the Epp email, provost-email.
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