Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Maybe the College should have hired Ave Maria Law School Grads...

It's a shame that not all lawyers in the Ave Maria University administration (website) graduated from the Ave Maria School of Law (website) because lawyers who do the right thing avoid press articles like this: Wanderer article, Ave Maria University Official Advises College Admissions Staff: "Bend The Rules". After all, the law school was given the motto "Fides et Ratio" [faith and reason] because the motto "will demonstrate that one can pursue both academic excellence and a strong religious conviction," said Tom Monaghan, who is also the founder and former Chairman of Domino's Pizza (cite is here).

Unfortunately, by choosing to take the expedient path, and "bend the rules", it's apparent that lawyers working at the College needed the purpose of Ave Maria School of Law: "We hope to produce outstanding lawyers who have exceptional analytical and writing abilities, as well as technical competency." Our students will return to their communities with an understanding of the nature of law and Catholic moral teachings. We not only want to set ourselves apart because of our faith commitment, but also because of the fine academic education that students will obtain at our school". Stated by Dean Dobranski at law school inception (cite is here).

Undoubtedly, the law school has done this -- topping the charts for bar exam results its first year, and continuing to astound the legal community with immediate successes. Such successes were obviously built with the foundations of integrity.

So what's the rub? Why the concern here?
Simple. The person on the street assumes Ave Maria is a united institution. I, for one, cannot blame them because they have similar logos and similar names -- however, I quickly explain to people that the schools are separately administered.

To me, such confusion only shows that what is happening at the college confuses the average bystander to think that the Ave Maria School of Law is somehow doing the same. Because the college is now faced with returning educational funds, and quotes like, "bend the rules" are published, the average person thinks Ave Maria lawyers are no different than others. That's a shame... another casualty of the fiasco -- the setback of having a self-imposed hurdle added to the already tortuous path of establishing a clean name in the legal community.

"Did the law school have to reimburse you for student loan money?" asked the metropolitan lawyer. I immediately explained that the law school fully complied with the law. I was fortunate enough to be asked -- most people don't ask questions, but assume.

The bottom line is that despite the defensive tone and spin produced by the Naples-college administration, their shenanigans are rippling out and polluting the integrity of my good reputation. It's sad because it also brings the notion of Catholic schools following a higher law into question. We are supposed to be good because our Father in Heaven, Who sees in secret, will repay us according to our deeds. That's what separates an Ave Maria School of Law grad from any lawyer: we do the right thing even when nobody will notice. Too bad the college administrators didn't practice what they preach, too.
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Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved. May be quoted in part so long as accompanied with hyperlink.

7 Comments:

At 10:54 PM, July 21, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am another Ave Maria School of Law grad and lawyer, and I have no connection whatsoever to this blog (I do not even know who the author is). I, too, talk to people who confuse the law school with the college, to the law school's detriment. I am concerned that the AMSOL Board will have further trouble clarifying this situation if they continue to entertain proposals to merge AMSOL with AMU. I hope the Board will act soon to declare that, while we wish AMU well, we are not merging with them. Maybe we can reassess that position in 20 years, but for the sake of AMSOL and its grads it should be off the table for now. Thank you.

 
At 12:43 AM, July 22, 2004, Blogger Torgo said...

I understood any entertainment of a possible merger to be contingent on the good standing of each institution. Well, *ahem*, the LAW SCHOOL doesn't have a problem with good standing. I'm not in an insider position, so what follows is a two-cent opinion from what I recall discussed.

Healy's sleight of hand tricks and now the inclusion of the Sites mess shows that lawyers working for the COLLEGE think like the type of lawyer the law school was founded to avoid creating: namely, the type of lawyer who has placed the law subordinate to personal purpose. Needless to say, and perhaps for the long-term good of the schools, they have been discovered early. however, twenty years may not be enough to remedy the mess they've made.

I don't think we have to worry much about a forced merger -- after all, given the mess and the compromised status of the COLLEGE accreditation (noted in the Wanderer article), a merger would be out of the question by the words of limitation used to consider it. Namely, the COLLEGE does not have the necessary reputation as of yet to be on par with the LAW school, nor has it created an ethical foundation to obtain such a reputation in the near future.

On the side, it seems sad that the COLLEGE will be able to keep holding itself out as a Catholic institution while allowing such poisonous practices to be implemented within. "Bending the rules" for expedience is a signal that other things are amiss as well... after all, if you do it in the big things, it must be being done in the small.

I think we have to keep working on reinforcing the public image that we have an ethical administration. For whatever else may have concerned us, I am sure that no student or graduate has the feeling that substantial government regulations are being "bent" or otherwise avoided at the LAW SCHOOL.

Yours

:-)

 
At 10:39 PM, July 28, 2004, Blogger Devil's Advocate said...

What does "separately administered" mean? Do the schools (law school, college, and university) have common ownership?

 
At 11:46 PM, July 28, 2004, Blogger AMSOL Alum said...

The LAW SCHOOL is self owned, and is not owned by the COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY, or whoever owns them.

 
At 11:55 PM, July 28, 2004, Blogger Torgo said...

You asked: do they have separate ownership?

The short answer is a resounding YES. However, there is some explanation that makes it clearer as to why.

Ownership of an educational institution essentially stems from the Board and its actions. The school is thereby is governed by the institution's Board. Governance implies control and control is always a central factor of ownership.

The College and the Law School have unique Boards --each one has unique governance, and therefore unique "ownership" as school ownership goes. While a few members are on each Board, there are a majority of uniquely placed members on the law school Board that a vote on matters of importance can be made independently of commonly placed members.

Next, each school has a unique executive. The College has a President that does not have any control over Law School administration.

The Law School's top executive is Dean Dobranski. As far as the public records of either institution is concerned, he has no executive control over the college.

The executives of each institution create the policies and day-to-day directives of work in each place. Because the executives are different, and because the Board that directs the executive is different, the schools are uniquely governed, and therefore entirely autonomous.

Some may argue that the purse strings determine ownership. There is always something to be said for such an argument, however, I am sure that a well-intentioned donor who placed a trust in appointing members to a Board would later follow the guidance of that Board.

Yours,

An AMSOL Grad

 
At 7:34 PM, July 29, 2004, Blogger Devil's Advocate said...

The question is not "do they [the schools] have separate ownership?" The question is whether the schools have common ownership. These questions are not mutually exclusive. The answers may be "yes" to each at the same time.

As to the substance of the above attempted answer, the law school itself might beg to differ. Its web page devoted to its Board of Governors states "The Board advises the Law School . . ." http://www.avemarialaw.edu/prospective/faculty/fac2.cfm. Advising seems to be far less powerful than either controlling or owning.

So, putting a finer point on the matter: Who owns Ave Maria College? Who owns Ave Maria University? Who owns Ave Maria School of Law?

 
At 1:39 AM, July 30, 2004, Blogger AMSOL Alum said...

For my part, I suggest that the answer to Devil's Advocate's question is in each entity's corporate bylaws. I once saw the LAW SCHOOL's bylaws, and it is set up like 99% of all corporations. From the recent reports about the COLLEGE and UNIVERSITY, they seem to be set up the same way.

Each school is a separate non-profit corporation. Each corporation is the "person" who owns each respective school and properties. Each corporation is governed by its own Board of Directors / Governors. The Board does not own the school - it governs the entity that owns the school.

I agree that it is disconcerting that the LAW SCHOOL and UNIVERSITY share some common board members, especially if those members were to vote on a proposal to merge the two entities. Nevertheless, UNIVERSITY Board members are a minority on the LAW SCHOOL Board.

Where is Devil's Advocate going with this question? There is no need to sniff out some secret common ownership among the schools - if Mr. Monaghan influences the LAW SCHOOL against the better instincts of other Board members, it is plainly due to his financial input or lack thereof. As our host AAGAL has emphasized, such influence has not trickled down to the school’s vision or important day-to-day operations – illustrated by the fact that LAW SCHOOL students are not subject to a dress code. Hopefully Mr. Monaghan will focus on the snowballing success of the LAW SCHOOL and not get upset when the Board (again, hopefully, promptly, and unequivocally) nixes any proposal to move to the Everglades.

 

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