Friday, March 17, 2006

AMC Redux - Monaghan's wrecking machine now running on all cylinders to break up AMSOL in Michigan

Dear Friends, Alumni, Students, Faculty, and Staff of Ave Maria School of Law,

We have now reached the point that so many of us feared for our beloved school - the point where Tom Monaghan decides to break up another thriving educational institution that he is the main funder of. As was done to AMC, there are several methods employed by Monaghan and his "yes men" to accomplish this goal.

First, COMPLETE CONTROL over every facet of the school and the eventual move to Florida. This includes, as we will see, the complete stifling of dissent.
Second, BUYING OUT THE GOVERNING BOARD so that it LACKS INDEPENDENCE.
Third, a campaign of REVISIONIST HISTORY, LIES, and MANIPULATION


We will attempt to lay out most of the events of the last week since the Board of Governors voted to conduct a feasibility study of the Florida site. We will demonstate, beyond a doubt, that the move to Florida is already a fait accompli, at least in the minds of the Dean, Monaghan, and many board members.
We will be adding to our case as new facts and documentation presents itself. For now, here are some of the new key developments:

1. After the Board Vote last week, the tenured faculty of the school
were given a letter saying that Dean Bernard Dobranski had been appointed to a committee to review the tenure policy at the school and the changes would be discussed after the results of the feasibility study were in.


So what egregious attempt to "undo" tenure mean? Two things.
One, the timing is such that no decision will be made on who or who may not remain (or become) tenured until after the feasibility study is complete, at which time the Board will likely vote to move to Florida. So this is a move to shut up the faculty, especially the founding faculty, who it should be noted contributed $100K each of their own money to start up the school.
Second, this is a device for Monaghan and the Dean to get rid of faculty that they don't like, or who speak out against a move to Florida. It has been reported before that Monaghan does not care whether the founding faculty moves to Florida or not- he sees them and every other professor as completely replaceable at any point.

2. The Board of Governors can no longer claim to be unbiased and independent, due to two factors. One is the fact that at least 5 members on the board - Monaghan, Dobranski, Fessio, George, and Kuhn currently serve (or have served) on the Board of Ave Maria University. This is such an obvious and fundamental conflict of interest which still has not been addressed by the Board (probably because they know they have no defense of the fact that these Board members continue to push for and vote on items that would directly enhance AMU's interests. Not to mention that Monaghan would be the chief economic beneficiary of such a move, yet has not excused himself from any votes on anything to pertaining to Florida.
The second factor that undermines the independence of the AMSOL board is that fact that so many of its members belong to organizations that receive substantial contributions from Tom Monaghan. This will be documented further as time goes on.
This all having been said, there is word of a small revolt against Monaghan and the Dean by some other members of the Board, although some Board members have privately admitted that Monaghan has promised to pull out all of his funding immediately if the Board does not vote to move to Florida.

3. The Dean is not even pretending to take a neutral, "wait and see approach" on Florida anymore. At a meeting held this past week with students, one student questioned the need to move the school from Michigan, as it is thriving there and there were no guarantees for what might happen in Florida. The Dean replied that, as long as AMSOL remains in Michigan, it will always only be the second best law school in the state. Additionally, the Dean made comments to staff members at a meeting with them, in response to a question about transitioning to Florida, that even though the Board had not decided anything yet, he could speak for them in promising all current staff that they would be welcome to move to down to Florida. Additionally, he said that he knew that Monaghan was of the same mind regarding a transition of AMSOL to Florida as he was for AMC, with the implication being that it would be handled in a similar manner. Finally, the Dean stated that he would still be open to voting for a move, even if it meant a bump down to provisional accreditation.
But hey, nothing has been decided yet...

4. The desire for COMPLETE CONTROL and the crackdown on dissent continues. In what is becoming frightenly reminiscent of '1984', the administration continues its all-out-assault on basic freedoms at the school. As reported here before, the school previously implemented a new electronic discovery system that would allow it to monitor emails more easily. After that the Dean torpedoed any attempt for the AMSOL staff to unionize by calling a meeting without the organizer present and telling staff that joining a union was against the mission of the school and could result in retaliatory measures.
In the last week, this administration has suspended an outspoken student's email account (although no violation of the school's email policy could be found), has threatened a lawsuit against another current student for copyright infringement of the school's logo, and has effectively silenced the faculty with the "revisting tenure" shenanigan.

5. The school just sent out a new issue of the Advocate which has only one purpose - to glorify the Dean and Monaghan. We will devote a separate post to this shameful piece of propaganda, but we should note that it takes great pains to present a history of the school that completely cuts out any mention of the founding faculty and makes the Dean and Monaghan appear to be the oldest of friends and the two people who came up with the whole idea of starting the school.

PLEASE DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF EQUATING THE MISSION OF AN INSTITUTION WITH THE CHARACTER OF ITS LEADERSHIP. AMC, AMSOL, AND AMU DO PROMOTE AN "ORTHODOX" CATHOLIC MISSION. HOWEVER, THIS DOES NOT ALLOW THEIR GOVERNORS AND ADMINISTRATION TO IGNORE CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING AND SIMPLE ETHICS IN ORDER TO PROMOTE SUCH A MISSION. NOW IS THE TIME TO STAND UP TO OUR "LEADERS" OR FOREVER LOSE OUR BELOVED LAW SCHOOL.

45 Comments:

At 11:24 AM, Blogger mrbooks said...

I was brought to tears upon reading this and the previous post (the memo).

AMC was a thriving school with over 300 students with 100's of admission inquiries each year when the AMU venture of started. All we asked was the chance to continue independently from that point. Imminently do-able at that point. Now we are reduced to try to start a new school from scratch.

It break my heart to see AMSOL being put into the same position, despite the contributions and sacrifices of so many in her founding.

Fight, my friends, fight hard! Hope for victory, but be willing to die with sword in hand rather than surrender.

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Luke J.J. Altman said...

Add to the "1984"-like crackdowns on dissent at AMSOL, the Dean has had video surveillance of his office and all the proceedings that go on therein, since October. The video surveillance system is run by Domino's Farm Security. The Ave Maria Foundation signs security's checks. Need I say more about the logical conclusions from these facts.

 
At 1:47 AM, Blogger mSCIENCE said...

Monaghan has promised to pull out all of his funding immediately if the Board does not vote to move to Florida.

So, the "best interest" of the school, which the Board/Dean claim binds their actions, is, in fact, to placate Monaghan's every whim in order to keep the school from financial collapse.

The question is not "Does Monaghan have the right to do what he wants with his money?"... although, at some level, a Christian should know that "his" money is not really "his" own... which is the heart of true stewardship. The question is, rather, "What is Monaghan -doing- with his money?".. and the answer is "coercion". This is the dysfunction that occurs when the primary benefactor is also the Board Chairman.

Some will turn a blind eye to past/present problems and betrayals saying "Yeah, but consider the good that could come from all this 'investment'." Did Tolkien teach us nothing about the inevitable fate that awaits those who use power, and stop at nothing, to fight evil? Monaghan's ring of money imposes serfdom on the well-intentioned wearer, for it enslaves while it also empowers. And what does it gain us to build this town and university, and along the way violate that which we claim to stand for, and teach? To quote Elrond, "For nothing is evil in the beginning."

Mr. Monaghan is now starting a bank in Naples. All, I'm sure, part of his laser-like focus on the academic community that is the University. Right.

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Torgo said...

I would be very afraid to deposit money in the Bank of Thom.

If it is like the Law School, then it will grow at 50% APRs, and astound with sheer performance. Then, all of the sudden, when the money therein is needed for a necessary expense, the bank manager will deny a withdrawal citing new policy enacted 10 minutes before asking. The bank would institute penalties for withdrawal and discuss high merits of continued saving. APR would be 0.8% but that bank would only report average returns over life. Then, the Bank would talk about future withdrawals to be made in a new bank location to be built. Meanwhile, bank employees would be fired if they discussed actual return rates or let anyone withdrawal cash.

 
At 4:06 PM, Blogger Torgo said...

Oh, I forgot worst part of the Bank of Thom.

Although it issues US Currency in the beginning, it suddenly decides to broker in Monaghan Capitalistas, and pizza notes. Having a stated value in U.S. dollers, the exchange rate would never be what is promised and they would only spend in the Bank of Thom. Any complaints about the discrepancies between stated value and actual value would result in fees, fines, poison letters to your employer, or if employed in bank of thom, then permanent banishment under cloak of imputed wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, rather than convert back to US Currency and make it all legit, large amounts of cash would be spent by Bank of Thom to justify how much better pizza notes perform than real money and how nice it will be when the rest of the world uses pizza notes.

All along, your necessary costs would be mounting.

I don't suggest the hypothetical Bank of Thom.

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Torgo said...

of course! How could Torgo forget the true destiny of the Bank of Thom.

At some point, perhaps 5 or 6 years after the Bank of Thom is chartered, the note holders in the Bank will be notified that the Bank is closed and useless because Thom pulled his pizza notes out in order to start the Thom Federal Credit Union, because Federal Credit Unions allow for the conditioning of membership based on arbitrarily set conditions.

After some whining, some highly favored bank note holders will receive transfer offers converting the bank notes into TFCU shares. Meanwhile, there will be some crook from the bank management who is also the credit union CEO. Investigation will show that some of these crooks got sweet transfer deals four months before anyone else knew of the Bank drop.

The little widows and orphans who had deposited money into the Bank will be out of luck. As well as the families who started college funds for their kids, etc... The propaganda notes will talk about how great the Credit Union is in offering no interest mortgages to young Catholic families (oh wait, that wouldn't happen but it would be something similar).

Great adveritisements enticing new capital to invest in the new federal credit union would talk about how some part fo the interest earned would finance a new convent. Meanwhile, the convent with cash deposited in the bank would not be allowed to withdrawal.

Other newsprint ads in circulation would talk about the high rates of return enjoyed by fictious people who invested in the bank, and how that would be enjoyed in the credit union even more so than before.

eh... you get the idea.

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger Anakin Aquinas said...

interesting how people seem worn out.

Looks like the strategy was to axe rice to wear everyone out for when the real dirty tricks get pulled.

 
At 11:21 PM, Blogger Torgo said...

worn out is wrong word. exasperated for some.

Others have resigned themselves to letting Thom steal the value of the degree, or at least ruin it.

Too bad Thom is so insistent on the destruction of little people like us.

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger The Directors said...

I guess the Death Star is fully operational:

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=6299

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger The Directors said...

New info at fumare. Do you have the same info?

 
At 11:09 AM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Speaking of pulling funding...

Does the AMSOL board, do we, have faith in a man with a few buffalo on some hills in Ann Arbor or on the One who "owns the cattle on a Thousand hills?"

"I look to the mountains, where does my help come from..." I don't see the initials TM or AMF in there anywhere!

 
At 2:05 PM, Blogger littleleaguer said...

In fairness to all, and for the sake of being properly hopeful, we're all thinking of how difficult it will be to "win" the war with Mr. Monaghan as to whether his will or the best interests of the law school community will win out. [Brief digression: the new talking point is that the feas. study team is looking at the "best interests of the law school" with a long-future view, whereas faculty, students and alums are looking only at their OWN interests. Fascinatingly, harm to virtually the law school's ENTIRE community would never on this view translate from a harm to the individuals' personal interests to a harm to the law school itself. However, harm to Mr. Monaghan's (sole) personal interests is necessarily a harm to the law school community.] Returning from the digression, we forget the many hurdles TM must himself surmount before getting what HE wants. There are a lot of pieces to assemble all over this blog. The faculty is disaffected. So are the staff, the students, and the alumni. Therefore, the ABA is going to give him problems. They've had to alter their building in FL because of hurricane measures, which is also substantially increasing the cost. The entire building project in FL is colossally expensive - easily enough, I would think, to tap out his financial resources - and he has additionally promised to FUND AMSOL and AMU once they get down there - he could probably fund them for about a week. And AMSOL will need plenty of money to weather the drop in admissions and everything else that will happen if they move. Proof of this resides in his call for 40% of costs to be covered by donations. Populating this city will be interesting - yes there are already takers, but I suspect it will be a tad tricky to get it full. There are going to be expensive ACLU lawsuits even now that he's retracted his craziest statements. There are going to be MI donors who pull their money out when the full disaster becomes clear. The finances and the logistics are going to start crashing around him in the next 24 months - and that's when AMSOL is scheduled to leave. Even if no one made a peep in opposition, he might never be able to get the law school down there. Thoughts?

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

You have a point there, L'ileaguer.

Any-one up on the Development office stats - just how close to fiscal independence is AMSOL?

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger Torgo said...

littleleaguer,

You make a good analysis, but your view is predicated on the notion that any of that mess will be taken under advisement.

Enough history has developed to show that the disasters are only covered with more sunshine blown in peculiar places.

Examples: The Dpt. of Ed. situation resulted in no change of methods or change of management. The alleged misrepresentations made concerning undergrad accreditation have also not resulted in any change of method or management, but instead have been silenced and buried with cash.

If we were dealing with someone who was able to view the world in the sense you and I and the others here do, then I might think your analysis would result in some effect. The trouble is that we are dealing with someone immune to preventing predictable problems, and rather has made a lifelong method of burying problems with cash, force, and misrepresentations.

We look forward and see a pit in the ground, and change course. It appears the machinery of the management at hand looks forward at the same pit, and whips the caravan to proceed full bore at it. should anyone express concern over the pit, they are whipped, killed, or gagged. After the calamity, it kills anyone who mentions the pit, and promotes people who say the pit never existed. That's the difference here.

Torgo wishes that the situation would change and everyone could discuss how to avoid the pit, but nothing in the way things have worked suggests anything will be different this time around.

Torgo suspects Barron Collier is relying on that repeated behavior to make a mint off the unrealized real estate development.

 
At 12:58 AM, Blogger Anakin Aquinas said...

little leaguer...

everything u posted is why they are so urgent to move the school.

The longer the wait, the less likely it goes.

so move it now at all costs to save the projecft down there, and before all the evidence of ALL the liabilities in moving the school comes out in the open.

Defenitely get it moved b4 the alumni can start contributing.

Plus Monaghan's decreasing funds mean he needs the law school down there to increase the money he makes off the town, or else he might be able to build the town/university.

finally, not sure what would happen if accreditation was revoked for the University visa vie the Dept of Education investigation ongoing, but that would be a disaster. Having the law school down there means even if that happens, the Town can still be built anyway.

and FYI Monaghan is a 50% partner with the developers for the town.

 
At 12:49 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

this has classic earmarks of stage 2 TM/cronies tactics.

Stage 3 will be massive changes done during the SUMMER MONTHS since students/facult are decentralized (out of touch, out of state, etc.)

This spring stuff is just positioning. Expect to come back to a very different school next fall.

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Boko Fittleworth said...

It's important ro realize that there are two goals here. In no particular order: (1) establish the/a law school in Florida and (2) delete the law school in AA. There are lots of reasons to think goal (1) will not be acheived. Goal (2), however, the deletion of AMSoL from AA, is a lot easier to accomplish. Say what you will about Mr. Monaghan, he has an outstanding track record of closing down academic institutions. I don't really give a damn about goal (1); it's goal (2) I care about, and I fear the powers that be are quite capable of realizing AMSol AA's deletion.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Torgo said...

Charles,

See this post at whichavemaria:
"Problem Faculty"

Also, click the link to see the rest of the posts, including a new one asking for more blogs.

Torgo

 
At 8:28 PM, Blogger The Directors said...

Fumare is picking up slack as well.

www.fumare.blogspot.com

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger littleleaguer said...

Littleleaguer wonders whether there are amsol students or alumni who would be interested in writing letters to the ABA review committee - a letter apiece, preferrably signed; a mass letter would be an option but I think less than optimal, as a flood of nuanced yet concordant perspectives could better make the point - for their information when they dis/approve the planned move to FL. Comments have been solicited by the Dean (for direction on to the feas. study committee), but I've been told that these are solicited to identify problem people, NOT really to inform the study people (shocking). I'd like to get a sense of the level of support for such an initiative. If whoseamsol would like to POST this invitation from littleleaguer, of course only if it is consistent with the mission of this page, that would be nice too.

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger The Directors said...

LittleLeaguer,

I think that Mark Rohlena's alumni association committee is channelling this type of thing. Check this out:

http://fumare.blogspot.com/2006/03/message-from-amsl-alumni-association.html

I KNOW that these folks can help with your idea.

 
At 12:42 AM, Blogger Mariano said...

I am very interested to hear people what the folks at the Grad school in Theology have to say about the Florida move. One would think that if they were reasonable that they would be concerned about losing funding to AMSOL if it moves to Florida. After all if the "Montes Memo" of a few months ago is to believed, the Graduate program is the main recipent of money down there...If the law school moves one would think there would be direct competition between the two "favored" spawns. I guess we would see who wields the most power then, Dobranski or Dauphanais, Lamb, etc.?

 
At 9:22 AM, Blogger Boko Fittleworth said...

I cross-posted this at fumare; I'd love to see it commented upon:

Speaking of our beloved alma mater, I just saw the USNews top grad schools 2007(?!) edition last night. The news is not good. Fourth tier. What's really bad, though, is that, although we can reason away poor scores for us from the legal community (due to our being relatively new and unknown, and perhaps even due to some hostility to our mission), the other stats (except for our 100% bar passage rate-way to go, guys!) support our low ranking. The GPAs and LSATs of the entering class (we accepted two-thirds of all applicants, by far the highest acceptance rate in the country-the next highest was around 45%) were terrible. I remember when our LSATs put us near the top of the second tier. Lo, how the mighty have fallen!

I'd love to know why. Why do we accept so many applicants? Why the lowering of standards? Is the school okay with being fourth-tier? Is this about money? Is the cheapening of our JDs and, worse, the downfall of our school (and this is quite a comedown-those charts they gave us showing the school's stats compared with other schools are no longer worth the paper they're printed on), a result of the whole Florida fiasco? I'd like to know more about why Dean Kenney, who recruited some outstanding classes, left for ND.

The University of Iowa, if I recall, remains at 18.

 
At 9:33 AM, Blogger The_Peach said...

Can you provide a link? I looked on the US News & World Report website (or whatever it's called) and they just have the old info up with no ranking for AMSL. I'd love to see the actual stats and compare them with some other schools.

It's definitely a matter of concern...ESPECIALLY since it could provide "proof" of "necessity to move" for the pro-move contingency in admin ("no, the school's doing badly here in MI, it could do better in FL"-- even though a lot of that stuff ie admissions is controlled by admin).

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger res_ipsa_loquitur said...

Funny that Dobranski said that they were considering Florida because they "didn't want to be the second-best law school in Michigan," or words to that effect. Maybe if they didn't recruit such lousy students...

 
At 9:57 AM, Blogger Boko Fittleworth said...

I saw the USNewsODT (that's my secret code to let people know I'm a neo-con) at a Borders in Harrisburg, PA last night. No idea how long it's been out.

So much for: "Yeah, I'm applying to Merton College, Oxford and the Sorbonne. Harvard is my safety school." Looks like we're everybody's safety school,, and it looks like we're keeping it pretty safe.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Easy there, guys and gals.

Discussing SAT scores is one thing, calling the new recruits "lousy students" and blaming them -even by just inuendo- for running down the school is quite another. Don't take it out on them just because you're angry with the administration.

As any teacher worth his/her salt will tell you, expectations are very important. Running them down before they have a chance to prove themselves is hardly fair, judicious, or prudent. You just might get what you expect.

If you treat them with dignity, give them your aid and support, and expect them to work their hardest and strive to meet the highest standards, they may very well rise to the occasion.

You need these new students as allies, not enemies. Work with them, not against them.

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Boko Fittleworth said...

Mr. Brooks,

I see your point. I almost added to my last post, and add now:

Nothing against the student body. We all have different strengths, different gifts we can bring to a community (like AMSoL); nothing wrong with not being a spectacularly gifted standardized test taker. (I feel particularly sensitive about this, because I am quite good at standardized tests, but also very aware of my weaknesses in so many other areas.)

My problem is with the administration. It's not "Who let these people in?", because I'm sure we've got some great students. Rather, it's "Who let in a class with this overall composition?"

Back when we had the need for ABA accredidation hanging over our heads, the school made sure to admit a student body that had impressive credentials. Having impressive credentials doesn't get you into heaven, but it does matter when you're trying to get a job after law school, or when you're trying to attract good students.

I think the school was better off when we had the need to impress the ABA. That kept us on our toes.

Also, Mr. Brooks, this is not about whether these students are teachable. It's about a few very specific, quantifiable (and quantified) credentials. Either you got 'em or you don't. Having students with high GPAs and LSATs is important to the success of a law school. AMSoL used to care about that. It's important to score well in the (well-publicized) USNews categories. The law school scoring well in those categories makes it easier for her graduates to feed their families. So really, Mr. Brooks, your two middle paragraphs are irrelevant to the point being discussed here. Be nice to people. Yeah, okay, I've heard that before. Thanks. Admit incoming classes with outstanding credentials. That's what we're talking about here and I've also heard that before. My problem is that apparently that hasn't been said in the ad wing recently.

 
At 12:26 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Little attitude problem there, Charles? If you've read any of my postings you've noticed I try to make my points without being personally offensive, even to the "other side."

If you are going to accuse me of not having the brains to "get your point," or of being one just trying talk "nice," then the least you can do is get the name right: mrbooks, not "Mr. Brooks."

Not entirely buying your point doesn't mean I didn't understand it. That's the kind of stupid argument we get from the other side and the mushy-gushy liberals.

I was making a different point, and it wasn't mushy-gushy liber be nice-nice!

1. SAT scored may be important, but they're not everything. The doctor who invented the first artificial heart valve - which has since saved thousands of lives - was a C student in highschool and did poorly on tests. He was counseled by everyone not to try because he would never make it in med school.

My point: it's worth the risk to admit a few with somewhat low scores but who have potential. The risk you describe does not justify being elitist and denying opportunity. I know you may be offended by the term elitist, but this is a Catholic institution. It may be called to a high standard, but it is also called to uphold the dignity and human worth of the individual - not just their utilitatian and monetary impact. It need not be a "lowering of standards" to do this. As in all things, it needs wisdom and prudence in its application.

2. These students are here, now. What you do with them between now and graduation is what's important.

3. Isn't that really what's always the most important? I've been in education for over 30 years. I have seen many high-scoring, gifted students who could not make the grade. I have seen many who were over-achievers, who succeeded beyond what tests indicated they could do.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger littleleaguer said...

my understanding is that the problem here is not that the admissions folk started flipping a coin instead of inspecting applications, or deliberately recruited morons (mrbooks point taken, I'm speaking loosely), or didn't bother to recruit well-credentialed people. My understanding is that the massive scandal brewing over the FL move, and the fact that the school has had to tell prospective students that heaven alone knows where they will graduate, has significantly dropped admissions - whether this means applications or offers accepted, I don't know. But, if you're a good student and a good Catholic and want to go to a good Catholic law school, and are faced with the choice between a liberal school with a good Catholic community and a Catholic school on the point of self-destruction - you go to Georgetown, join the K of C, reform the culture, and graduate in three years in the same building you enrolled in. Anyway, that reflects what I've been hearing - this is ALL the fault of the FL move.

 
At 1:36 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Maybe an analogy would be helpful.

Any woodworkers in the crowd? You know that each type of wood has a character and beauty of its own, though some may be considered more plain some more beautiful than others. You may also know there are certainly flaws which may render a piece a poor choice because of its effect on the beauty of the piece. On the other hand, there are some flaws which render a piece very valuable because of the beauty it adds to the wood.

However, the beauty of the wood alone is not enough. To create an object of beauty also requires a craftsman, someone who sees in the wood that which he wishes to create. Someone who also has the ability to fashion the materials at hand, whether plain in themselves or beautiful, into a that object of beauty, and yes, even of utility.

Was it Michangelo (I know, marble not wood)who, when asked why he chose a piece which had a flaw for one of his works, responded that he saw in it that which he wished to create?

As an educator, I didn't have a choice of who showed up in my classroom. I did have a choice in what I chose do do with them, however. But if I had been given a choice, as AMSOL has some ability to do, I hope I would have looked not at just who they were, what level they had achieved, but - as best as possible - at who they could become, what they could achieve if given the chance.

That is admittedly much more difficult than just weeding out people on the basis of test scores, and it is admittedly risky, especially for law schools and med schools. I personally believe it is necesary, however, if we wish to maintain one of the key differences between us as a Catholic institution and those secular institutions who know only the bottom line, the utility and monetary value of a thing or of a person.

 
At 1:39 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Good point, littleleaguer.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger Boko Fittleworth said...

I've got a big attitude problem, Mr. Brooks. (I have no interest in getting your cutesy nickname "right", as I have little verging on no respect for someone who calls me out by name while hiding behind a pseudonym.)

I've often found your comments to be insightful and informative, because you've apparently gone through the crisis at AMC, which is similar to the one at AMSoL. That said, these are two different institutions. The Law School's battle is different from (although similar and connected to) AMC's. We're talking about AMSoL's battle here. Sometimes your comments elucidate AMSoL's problems; sometimes they obscure them. Here, I believe your comments obscure the issue. Your second response to me confirms my impression that you either missed my point or are wilfully trying to change the subject.

I understand and agree with what you've said about a teacher's relationship to his students. The teachers here have not chosen their students, and no doubt should treat them as you say.

My point goes to those who've chosen to admit this particular class of students to AMSoL. They blew it. While the teachers need to teach them well, the rest of us can try to identify what went wrong (and that begins by pointing out that something indeed has gone wrong) and figure out ways to rectify the situation.

Little Leaguer's comment is precisely the kind of contribution that advances the ball. Did AMSol admit a class with subpar stats because of the proposed move to Florida? I think the answer is probably yes. The Florida crisis may well be scaring away top students and diverting resources, fiscal and otherwise, from their recruitment.

No one is saying stats are the only important thing or even the most important thing. The point is that AMSoL has been ranked by USNews as a fourth-tier school and, sadly, the stats printed by USNews next to the AMSoL name are indeed those of a fourth-tier institution. The USNews rankings are important: they affect the alumni's ability to land jobs and the school's ability to attract top-notch students. AMSoL used to understand that and act accordingly.

Mr. Brooks, you've made your point about how teachers should treat their students once they've got them. If you've got any comments about how the school can improve upon its fourth-tier ranking, I'm open to hearing them. If all you want to do is cry over AMC, tell us all what a great teacher you are, and insult me while hiding behind a cutesy name, maybe you should just butt the hell out.

How dare you patronize us with your "Easy there, guys and gals" and insult me by name while hiding behind a pseudonym?!

Charles C. Pavlick
AMSol '05
ccpavlick@alumni.avemarialaw.edu

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Like it or not, school rankings are very important in the field of law. If the goal is to produce Catholic lawyers who can influence the culture, you need the high rankings.

To address the issue concerning Florida, I remember getting my acceptance call MUCH earlier than any other school. My first reaction was: 'is the speed of this acceptance because of the Florida fiasco'.

I will be going to Indiana University, even though I originally wanted to attend AMSoL. I think that those who want to tell the alumni to dance in the forest with the flowers should get real. Have you ever been unemployed or unemployable? I have--and I can assure you it is one of the most miserable experiences a person can suffer.

Eric

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

Well, Eric, if what I think you're saying is true, maybe Charles is right. Maybe I am missing something here.

I can understand that getting top-notch students enrolled is important. Beginning with good material just makes good sense if you want a good final product.

On the other hand, I find it hard to fathom why having 100% pass the bar, and outstripping UM for three years in a row in the process, is so grossly overshadowed by the status of the incoming class.

Yes, I know, they got the 100% because AMSOL started with a top notch group of students. I have heard the illustrious Prof. Safranek swear that he would get 100% out of this class or die - if he couldn't do it with them, he couldn't do it at all - (or some words to that effect) on more than one occasion.

I'm not entirely certain what you meant by the comment about dancing in the forest. I hope it didn't refer to me. If you knew me at all, you would know that I am a very down to earth, practical kind of guy. And, yes, I've been out of work, with two kids in college by the way, and burned up over $20k of my savings until I found the position at AMC which is rapidly approaching it's premature end.

I just want a civil discussion of ideas. We can have differences of opinion, differences of focus, even be confused, mistaken, and/or ill-informed without resorting to name calling, snide inuendo, and imputation of despicable motives.

That's not to say I have found all of those things on this site, by the way. I am just ennumerating my preference, my expectations

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger Boko Fittleworth said...

Mr. Brooks,

I apologize for my harshness. I really am very upset about this whole thing. I loved the whole AMSoL concept, the school itself was just what I needed when I needed it, and the administration, staff, faculty, and (most of the) students are very important to me. I was treated so well there; it really made me a better person (if you doubt that based on recent experience, you should have met me before).

The money quote from my above post was:

"No one is saying stats are the only important thing or even the most important thing. The point is that AMSoL has been ranked by USNews as a fourth-tier school and, sadly, the stats printed by USNews next to the AMSoL name are indeed those of a fourth-tier institution. The USNews rankings are important: they affect the alumni's ability to land jobs and the school's ability to attract top-notch students. AMSoL used to understand that and act accordingly."

All I can say is, in the legal community, the USNews rankings matter. A lot. The need to impress USNews and the ABA is why the law school got off to such a great start. We've got full ABA accreditation now, and apparently are no longer as concerned with USNews-type stats. That's bad news for AMSoL. I don't think it can be stressed enough how having the need for ABA accreditation hanging over our heads dictated what was done at the school. Now, something (or someone-guess who?) else is doing the dictating.

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger mrbooks said...

My apologies to you as well, Charles.

My connection to AMSOL has been peripheral, but I have supported it from the beginning. The faculty, staff, and students I have known personally all took the vision of it's founding to heart. All have shown a love for their chosen profession, each other,their Church, and their Lord. If I had a fortune - which sadly I do not - I would gladly spend it to save both AMC and AMSOL.

 
At 9:20 PM, Blogger Anakin Aquinas said...

perhaps if Monaghan stopped threatening to pull his money from the school if the board didn't vote his way, we could get that ranking up.

 
At 9:29 PM, Blogger AMSOL Pioneer said...

I spoke with the Dean today about the ranking and he shared some important informatin with me. The USN&WR rankings were based on a number of criteria. Two of the heaviest-weighted criteria have to do with reputation in the legal community / peer review, and "selectiveness".

On the peer review point, we suffer from the disadvantage of being new. It's not so much that we were "dissed" by the deans, legal scholars and judges who were polled about us, but rather that they simply didn't know us or enough about us. This is a natural hurdle with new schools.

As regards selectivity, the Dean admitted we are weak. This criterion is made up of three subparts: incoming LSAT scores (we are good there), incoming GPA (we're weak there), and % of applicants admitted (we're weak there, too, but this is also a function of our youth as a school and our strong mission & identity).

These two critera together account for 65% of the ranking. The Dean said that he was more disappointed that we were ranked at all, so soon after receiving accreditation, but that he rathe rexpected we'd be low: third or fourth tier. That's the slanted way these rankings work.

Mind you, I'm not commenting on our alma mater's admissions policies. Just relating what I was told. It offers perhaps some small comfort.

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger littleleaguer said...

Pioneer,
I think most of what you said is right but it does contain a significant portion of the Dean's characteristic "spin." Here are things that also should be considered. 1) No, our LSAT scores are not competitive - we are not remotely comparable to any top tier school in that regard, and belong solidly in the fourth tier. If you want to pursue the stats at leisure, a copy of the report (for photocopying) resides in the law review office next to the phone. 2) Our acceptance rate has nothing to do with our mission; it is a result of two things: the fact that prospective students are deterred by the uncertainty associated with FL, and the incomprehensible fact that Monaghan/Dobranski decided to increase the class size by 50% immediately after the class of 2006. Witness the hideous parking problems, desperate need for new classroom space, and substantial reorganization of the 1L schedule in the past two years to somehow accomodate all the students; also, perennial problems with hypercompetitive class registration that simply did not exist before. Also interesting on this point is a bar graph appearing in the most recent copy of the Advocate, which indicates that the current 1L class had over 600 - yes, 600 - applications. A few possibilities exist here: many students applied, and MOST of them had to be admitted before enough of them would accept admission to fill a class (a disaster), or the chart is simply a ridiculous falsehood. I have no preference between these options. It has become clear to me that those most highly placed charged with serving the good of the school are waging a campaign of misinformation designed principally to protect themselves. That this should be so regarding an institution of this kind is heartbreaking, but it is still true.

 
At 2:27 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

The controversy over the possible move to Florida has had a chilling effect on my interest in attending Ave Maria School of Law. I was excited about the possibility of attending a conservative law school dedicated to excellence. However, after reading all of your posts I am scared of the turmoil that seems to currently engulf the school. So, I have a question for you all - given the current situation at the school would you recomend that a prospective student like myself turn down Ave Maria's full scholarship offer and attend elseware?

 
At 2:37 PM, Blogger littleleaguer said...

Daniel,
I would believe that you were a prospective student except that you just said "chilling effect."

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Lol, believe what you want - but its true. Visit my blog if you want.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger littleleaguer said...

Okay, you're a real person who is not currently enrolled, unless your WHOLE blog is fabricated. I think what you can read here is that that's an almost impossible question for any of us to answer. Would I, personally, have come here to be told that I might graduate in a different state? I think probably no. I came here believing that it was a good school and a stable one. I think most of us probably did. Does prudence allow you to consider graduating in FL? Does it allow you to consider transferring if need be? What about joining a battle for your school? Finally, worst of all, what if your school closes never to reopen after you graduate (to say nothing of before)? None of us knows what will happen. We hope and pray every day for the best. You will face challenges to find jobs, challenges (whichever side you are on) in the FL controversy, and probably questions from the legal community - now, not only on why you're at a Catholic law school, but why such a conflicted one. You have to think about this. I don't want my law school to die, and I don't want to drive people away, but it's totally unfair for us to deceive those coming after us. Pray about it.

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Thanks - I really appreciate your advice.

 

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