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SLU Law School Dean Resigns, Slams Administrators

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - St. Louis University Law Dean Annette Clark has announced her resignation from the law school with a scathing list of allegations against SLU President Father Lawrence Biondi and Vice President Dr. Manoj Patankar.

“I no longer have confidence in either of your abilities to lead this institution or in your commitment to the well-being of the School of Law,” Clark wrote.

Among the “egregious actions” cited by Clark are:

  • You transferred over $800,000 from the law school building fund to the President’s Opportunity Fund on the final day of Sandy Johnson’s interim deanship without her knowledge and counter to her understanding of your agreement regarding how her compensation and that’s summer’s research stipends would be funded, and without notice to me as I took over the deanship;
  • You acquired the building downtown and deemed it to be the new law school building without adequate investigation of its suitability and without any notice or consultation with the new law school leadership;
  • You refused to meet with the ABA/AALS reaccreditation site team;
  • You forbade the law school to fund summer research stipends out of the operating budget after the faculty and I followed the process the vice president assured me you had approved;
  • You unilaterally transferred $260,000 from the law school annual fund for summer research stipends to your own discretionary fund in contravention of your express agreement to my colleagues and to me that the 2012 summer research stipends would be funded from the law school operating budget.

She concludes her letter to Biondi and Patankar by saying “it is the ultimate irony that a Jesuit university would operate so far outside the bounds of common decency, collegiality, professionalism and integrity.”

“I simply cannot be part of, and I assure you I will not be complicit with, an administration that can’t be trusted to act honestly and in the best interest of its faculty, staff and students.”

President Biondi responded with a letter  of his own, suggesting Clark was to be “terminated” from her position as dean prior to the resignation.

“At 11 a.m. today, there was a scheduled meeting between Prof. Clark and Dr. Patankar, at which time Dr. Patankar and I had planned to terminate Prof. Clark’s appointment as Dean of our School of Law,” Father Biondi writes.

“Prof. Clark did not have the courtesy to honor this previously scheduled meeting, and instead emailed a letter of resignation to Dr. Patankar and me, in which she resigned as dean effective immediately.”

Not long after her resignation as dean, Clark sent another letter, this one to faculty and staff at SLU Law.

“I am resigning because I fundamentally disagree with the president and vice president for academic affairs as to the responsibilities of the law school dean and the importance of honesty, integrity, and honoring one’s commitments,” she wrote. “I no longer have confidence in their ability to lead this institution or in their commitment to the well-being of the School of Law.”

Clark goes on to condemn many of the actions she mentioned in her resignation letter, including the withdrawal of research stipends, which she calls “immoral.”

Clark’s replacement will be Belleville attorney Thomas Keefe Jr., a 1978 alum of the law school and long-time supporter of the department. Clark will remain a tenured full professor in the SLU Law School, though she writes in her letter to faculty and staff that “I anticipate I will be seeking another deanship in the near term.”

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