Archives for the month of: February, 2008

The next morning we started bright and early at the LSAC Dean’s Breakfast, with a breakfast buffet. As you know, I serve on the LSAC board, and it was fun to see Dan Bernstein (CEO) and Ellen Rutt (Chair of the Board). A couple of former LSAC Board members sat with us too, including Dean Dennis Lynch of Miami and Dean Dennis Shields of Phoenix (my hero). Len Strickman, my first Dean, currently Dean of FIU joined us as well. Dan presented information on the current test administration and application information, and Ellen talked about new LSAC initiatives.

LSAC Breakfast

AftDean Weidnerer the breakfast, the deans attended a plenary session on the personal challenges of deaning. The presenters wereDean Broderick Katherine Broderick, University of District of Columbia School of Law; Veryl Miles, Catholic University of America School of Law; Donald Weidner, Florida State University College of Law; and Susan Prager, Professor and former Dean of UCLA School of Law. The session was entitled “The Stages of Deaning.” Each dean shared the personal challenges they had encountered when stepping into their position, and reflected upon where they were in their deanship and how they viewed what they had accomplished, as well as their thoughts about the future. Dean Miles gave some very simple advice: to be fair, firm and friendly. Dean Weidner pointed out that over time a dean will mature in your job, but initially there is a very steep learning curve. One way to deal with the stress, he said, was to be engaged in activities outside of the job. Dean Prager said she was fortunate before assuming the deanship to have worked closely with the former dean and felt she has been able to complete their shared vision for the law school during her deanship. Deanplenary session Broderick shared the challenges of the accreditation process. One thing that was very plenary session1interesting was that all the deans on that panel agreed when a dean leaves office is important to for her to think about how she feels about the transition, and how others—the faculty, central administration and alumni—feel about it and to work through those emotions. They suggested that deans think about teaching or researching in new areas, and that sometimes former deans find that it’s much more mundane to go back to a regular schedule without all the various tasks one juggles as dean than one might expect. Also a few of the deans expressed that the sentiment that it is sDean Rick Matasarurprisingly lonely for deans who return the faculty.

Lunch was hosted by the Access Group. Frankly, for a conference meal it was a very nice one with surf and turf,Access Group and a terrific chocolate dessert. The presentation, given in part by Dean Rick Matasar (my former civ pro teacher) addressed the recent investigations into the student loan industry and what that meant for the industry and students. The session also highlighted the changes in congress affecting student lending as well as the new student loan forgiveness program.

After lKaren Rothenbergunch, the plenary session was on managing conflict and stress and finding joy in our work. The panelists were Jerry Parkinson, dean of the University of Wyoming College of Law, Karen Rothenberg, from the University of Maryland School of Law, Earl Martin, dean of Gonzaga University School of Law and myself. The tone of the panel was very personal. Each of the speakers gave their reaction to how the stress of the job, its effects and how they cope with those stresses. Dean Parkinson suffered some pretty serious health challenges, and he talked about how he has backed away and had more balance in his life. I talked about the journey from being a faculty member to the deanship and the ways that I deal with stress: developing an exercise program, having friends outside the law school and making sure to set reasonable hours. Dean Rothenberg talked more specifically about the stresses of fundraising.

plenary session3

The last breakout session focused on the joys and concerns of deans. Small groups of deans sat together and talked about the challenges they were facing and also shared their success stories. Each dean talked about one problem they’d Peter Alexanderlike help with, and folk in the groups shared their ideas. of Southern Illinois University concluded the workshop with a few closing remarks. Thanks very much to Peter for putting together such a wonderful program in that it dealt not only with the professional challenges of being a dean but the personal costs as well.

That evening the Bar Foundation Fellows’ Opening Reception was held in the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza over in Los Angeles. Established in 1955, the fellows are an honorary organization of attorneCarolyn Witherspoonys, judges and law professors whose professional careers have demonstrated remarkable dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of legal education. I was invited to become a bar fellow this fall after being nominate by Judge Stroud and Carolyn Witherspoon. It was quite a long wHyatt logoay across town in the traffic. In fact it took the greater part of an hour to arrive. The reception was held in the X Bar of the hotel and the fellow fellows I met were all interesting and welcoming. A number of the conversations I found myself involved in focused on increasing awareness of the need for pro bono service.

The next day was Saturday. I got up, went back to Curves, worked out, I had a bit of time to walk arounParamount Picturesd Santa Monica and have lunch with Deans Alexander and Juarez. Then it was time to get dressed for the Fellows Awards Reception and Banquet which was held at Paramount Pictures which was a pretty neat setting. We took buses from the Hyatt which turned out to be quite a ways. The logistics of this meeting were overall a bit of a challenge. Everything in L.A. was really far and spread out. As we got off the bus, actor dressed as Rhett Butler and Mae West greeted us, along with a string quartet, bars and the tall heaters. We had a reception around the beautiful fountain and then we went inside for dinner. The dinner was very nice. All you foodies out there should try not to drool when you hear what was served. Our first course began with a chopped salad of romaine and arugula, tomato, white beans, olives and mozzarella cheese. Our entree was grilled Chilean sea bass and petit filet of beef, served with sundried tomato and potato galette and steamed baby broccoli. It was fabulous!

Paramount Pictures Dinner

After dinner the American Bar Foundation handed out awards to outstanding members in their 52nd annual awards ceremony. The Outstanding Service award went to James R. Ellis of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP, the Outstanding Scholar award was given to professor Judith Resnik of Yale Law School, and the Oustanding State Chair award was actually given to the Oklahoma State Chairs collectively. Congratulations to all the winners. After dinner, we went into the theatre for the awards ceremony, and Professor Paul Bergman’s discussion of the image of the lawyer in film. That was a really neat presentation, very interesting. He’d selected films that I hadn’t seen before and made a number of poignant, funny comments. Afterwards there were desserts served in the area we’d dined in. Then it was time to board the buses back to the Grand Hyatt and from there I caught a cab back to my hotel.Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church2Sunday I visited Mount Olive Lutheran Church. After church it was back to the hotel to check out and head for the airport!

I always enjoy getting together with and learning from my fellow deans from across the country, and this trip was no exception.

To all of my faithful blog readers (hello out there!) you will be noticing a change around here beginning with this post. Instead of posting a whole week’s worth of excitement, I’m going to write about each event as it happens. That will, hopefully, make posts shorter, easier to read and let me put in more pictures for your viewing pleasure. Have an opinion on the new format? Let me know by posting a comment. I certainly like to hear from all of you out there in cyberspace.

February 6 saw me at the 37th Annual Dean’s Workshop at the Mid-Year American Bar Association Meeting in LosABA Mid Year Meeting Angeles. I hopped a direct flight from XNA, landed in Los Angeles and took a cab in Loews Hotel Logorush-hour, which took almost an hour and cost $45 to get to my hotel! The Loews Hotel in Santa Monica was beautiful, and I was lucky enough to get a room that faced the ocean. It definitely made up for that cab ride.

The event began that evening with a dinner for women deans—no boys allowed. The meal was oJoe’s Restaurant Logorganized by Dean Lisa Kloppenberg, and it was a wonderful opportunity for the gals to visit and get to know one another better. It’s a very supportive and warm group, and I was proud to be included. The dinner was held at Joe’s Restaurant in Venice, Calif. The menu was spectacular, and included things like porcini mushroom ravioli with wild mushrooms, butter braised Maine lobster and crispy skin artic char. For you foodies out there, you can check the restaurant out online at Dinner at Joe’s was wonderful and a great way to start the workshop.

Joe’s Restaurant Pic

The next day we started bright and early at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, fresh fruit, pastries and yogurt hosted by National Association of Law Placement. The folks of the NALP gave us an update on what’sNational Association of Law Placement LOGO happening to graduates in terms of where they’re going after graduation and the challenges facing them in the profession. One of the things the speaker pointed out is that there’s an increase in the salaries in high-end law firms, but not public sector/public interest employers. As you can imagine, that creates a problem for students who graduate with debt and who want to work in those positions. He also mentioned that 75 percent of graduates got jobs requiring bar passage, and another 8 percent of employers preferred it. The presentation was accompanied by an extremely interesting powerpoint.

Also discussed was the timing of employment offers. The issue lies in how long an offer must be held open once extended by a law firm. The rule has been that December 1 was the hard deadline for any student to accept or reject an offer. This has been a problem for students who receive offers over the course of the semester because the timetable leaves the law firms uncertain about incoming employees, and keeps other job-seeking students from finding employment. The new rule proposed by NALP now establishes a 45-day period once an offer has been extended for the candidate to reach a decision.

The actual workshop began at 8:45 a.m. with a plenary session on measuring output. The panel included Deans JoeDean Lauren Robel Harbaugh of Nova Southeastern University’s School of Law, Robel of Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington and Emily Spieler of Northeastern University School of Law. They discussed the different ways we might measure output– how well the law school is doing. For example, Dean Spieler’s school has a very Dean Emily Spielernontraditional approach which focuses more on experiential learning and less on traditional graded lecture-based courses. She talked about what that meant in terms of the accreditation process, especially about getting the accreditors to think outside the box when evaluating their program. Dean Robel recommended we use the Law School Survey of Student Engagement to look at how wellDeans Joe Harbaugh we’re doing. It measures how well students think the school is performing, what they view as areas for improvement and whether they feel it is properly preparing them for the practice. This is useful information that schools can use to improve their programs. Dean Harbaugh talked about different ways to measure the quality and success of a program, for example evaluating course completion, student achievement, job placement and the curriculum. Right now the ABA Section on Legal Education has a committee that is looking at this very issue, and is determining type of output the accreditation team should consider. It was an interesting, and timely panel.

Directly following was a focus breakout session entitled “Being Innovative in the Face of Assessment” during which smaller groups of deans talked about the both outcome measures and how to measure. This is a very interesting issue because even if you come up with the outcome you’re looking for, there’s always a measurement issue. The issues raised and opinions voiced were great.

The program continued with The Diversity Challenges session from 11:00 a.m. to noon, and that panel was comprised ofLeRoy Pernell Peter Pitegoffmoderator Peter Pitegoff of the University of Maine and of Penn State School of Law, of Florida A&M University and Suellyn Scarnecchia of the University of New Mexico School of Law. Dean McConnaughay began by listing things he did to increase diversity at his law school, including recruiting diverse faculty and staff, starting a speaker series that featured diversity and hosting alumni dinners for student organizations and alumni of color. He’s funded diverse student groups and increased the number of need-based scholarships, too. Dean Pernell talked about the need to continue to focus on the pipeline and promote, to prospective students, the idea of law as a source oDeans Phillip McConnaughayf social change. He mentioned that in many communities of color, lawyers are viewed unfavorably and encounters with the law are not positive. Pernell encouragedSuellyn Scarnecchia us to go out into those communities and share the ways that lawyers are agents of social change and justice. We should listening to the needs of the communities and find ways to become engaged with those issues. He thought law schools would be more successful in terms of recruitment by adjusting the way they’re seen in communities of color. Dean Scarnecchia asked very tough questions: Are we concerned with the proportions of minority groups in our law schools, or are we just meeting “diversity” goals? Do we have a generally diverse student body, or are we evaluating the numbers in each group? Those are interesting questions to mull over

Lunch was sponsored by the AALS, and it was a wonderful for a conference lunch: baked salmon, rice, asparagus, carrots and creme brulée for dessert. The speaker was Carl Monk, and he gave us an update on the activities of the AALS, which I’ve already blogged about.

The next event on the docket was a plenary session on resources and relationships. The moderator was Doug Ray of ToledoDouglas E. Ray College of Law and the speakers were of the University of Pittsburg School of Law, Robert Reinstein of Temple University School of Law and Fred White of the Golden Gate School of Law. Doug Ray, who has a labor background and is a good friend of mine, kicked off the panel with a few thoughtful remarks. He talked about the notion of bounded conflict, which is conflict between people who have a continuing relationship with oDean Fred Whitene another, and how it’s important to improve those relationships. For example, he talked about the law school’s relationship with the university, and encouraged deans to think about their school as a team player. He also talked about the need to share with others how the law school can contribute to the university, and reminded us to say “thank you” to the staff and administrators around campus who assist us. He also stressed the importance of educating our colleagues in the university community about the value of the law school, for example, the pro bono work of our students and the impact that our graduates have in shaping state policies as legislators, state officers and judges.

DeanDean Mary Crossley Crossley said deans should think more broadly about resources, which include relationships, and I think she’s right. How we approach people as individuals will affect our effectiveness. She also encouraged us to pull together folks from different organizations to put programs together, perhaps combining a corporate legal or university department with law school students. She reminded us of our community resources aRobert Reinsteinnd how cooperative programs help raise the visibility of the law school. Dean Reinstein encouraged us to be participants and players on campus, and Dean White talked about not shortchanging university relationships. He said law school deans should attend university-wide meetings, particularly the faculty senate. He also encouraged us to invite our colleagues from across campus into the building and to law school programs. That’s one thing that I personally need to work on. I think it’s very good advice to go into the buildings across campus and see what’s going on in other departments—it makes you a part of the team. I haven’t been as good at that as I should, so I’ve taken Dean White’s advice to heart. I definitely brought something home with me from that panel.

After that there was a breakout session that was a focused discussion on public law schools. Many public law school deans were present, and the biggest issue was how to work around financial resource challenges.

After the dean’s sessions were over, I decided to do a little bit for my Fabulous at Fifty program. I haven’t mentioned thisCurves Curves2in the blog before, but I have begun a Fabulous at Fifty program which essentially means that I have until September to be fabulous. I must tell you, I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it. Anyway, among other things, the program has a fitness component, and I’m trying to be very diligent about sticking to a workout program. Terri Yeakley printed the location of Curves for Women in Santa Monica, so I changed into my sweats and called them. They told me that I could walk to the gym from the hotel, so off I went.

While I was on my way, I ran into a young man who stopped me and asked if I would buy him something to eat. I have a personal policy that I never give people money, but I will buy them something to eat. One of the jokes among my friends is that people stop me and ask me because I look like I’m well-fed! Anyway, it just so happened that there was a burrito shop right there on the corner, and quite frankly I was glad to stop walking. We went in and he selected a very modestly priced meal, and said “thank you very much, God bless you”, and I was back on my way.

It turns out that Curves was more than “just a short walk” from the Loews Hotel. In actuality, the gym was about 4 miles away, so by the time I got there I already felt like I’d had a great workout. However, focused on the notion of being Fabulous at Fifty, I went on with my usual exercise routine anyway. I have to admit, though, I definitely caught a cab back to my hotel!

Loews Hotel Room View

That evening was the UCLA School of Law Dean’s Reception at the Rain Corporation in a lovely outside setting. It wasn’t too far from the hotel, thank goodness, because I don’t think I could have walked a long way to get there! There were tall heaters with heat lamps on them to keep everyone comfortable because it was a little bit cool outside, and everything was just wonderful. We had heavy hors d’oveurs and wine to munch on during the event. They were kind of strict, though, so I don’t have any pictures of that—you’ll just have to trust me when I say that it was lovely. It was a great way to wrap up the day.

On the 4th of February, the law school hosted a program entitled “Sixty Since Silas, A Celebration of PioneeringSilas Hunt Excellence,” which commemorated the integration of the University of Arkansas School of Law through the admission Silas Hunt on Feb 2, 1948. It has been 60 years since the momentous event which not only marked the University of Arkansas as the first southern school to voluntarily integrate, but paved the way for African-Americans in secondary education in Arkansas and across the nation. We knew that it was extremely important to commemorate such a significant event.

The program was extremely well-attend which was a tribute to the planning committee chaired by professor Chauncey Brummer. Professors Ned Snow, Mary Beth Matthews, Jim Miller and Steve Sheppard and Malcolm McNair were the additional committee members. We are all extremely grateful to them for their dedication and hard work to bring to life such a fantastic program.

The commemoration began with lunch in the courtroom, accompanied by a viewing of the award-winning documentary film entitled Silas Hunt: A Documentary. Originally commissioned by the former Dean of the School of Continuing Education, Donnie Dutton, the film was produced and directed by Mandel Samuels and Christopher Irwin, both from Media Services. They put an exhaustive amount of research into the production of the documentary. It took them 22 months to complete the story of Silas Hunt’s life. To do so they traveled as far away as California to tape interviews. All their hard work paid off, and they created a beautiful documentary which, by the way, is available through the University of Arkansas Media Services in the School of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach (formerly the School of Continuing Education).

Immediately after the screening of the documentary, there was a panel discussion of alumni who graciously returned to share their experiences at thdsc_0181.JPGe law school and discuss how Silas Hunt’s legacy has affected their lives. The panelists for the program were George W.B. Haley (’52), Sharon Bernard (’69), Gene E. McKissic (’76), Rodney E. Slater (’80), Carrol Williams-Perkins (’89), André K. Valley (’96) and Carla Marie Martin (’04), and they were fascinating to listen to. Take a look at our Panelist Photos. Ambassador Haley talked about what it was like to be at the law school directly after Silas Hunt had been here, and the challenges he faced. He talked about the fact that his law school education, regardless of the circumstances he encountered while here, opened the door to the world for him even to the extent that he became an ambassador to The Gambia. The next speaker was Sharon Bernard, who was the first African-American woman to graduate from the University of Arkansas. She spoke about some of the hostilities she faced, but she also talked about how she felt that she was much stronger because of her experiences here-they enabled her to achieve great things, like serving the Michigan National Bank for 30 years and becoming the chair of the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund.

Gene McKissic of Brown and McKissic told a story about his family pulling up to get dinner at a restaurant when he wassixty since silas young. The waiter told his father that he had to enter through the back door, but his father refused. Gene spoke about what he learned from that-that it’s never good to compromise who you are-and Secretary Slater picked up on that during his remarks. Slater also told a story from his boyhood. The best ice cream in his hometown was at a little shop where black folks had to go to the back door to get an ice cream cone. His grandmother told him not to do that-that no ice cream was good enough to have to go to the back door for it. He remembered that lesson well, and still lives by the idea that you should never compromise your integrity and your dignity. He also talked about a the importance of life of public service and the many contributions on can make in the public sector.

Carrol Williams-Perkins spoke about how the school of law opened many opportunities for her after graduation. She talked about what it was like to be an African-American woman who spoke German and worked for the Siemens Corporation, and how she blew people’s expectations and stereotypes of her out of the water. Andre Valley talked about returning to Helena/West Helena and what can be accomplished through a life of service, particularly by representing the underrepresented. He also spoke about the broad variety of issues he deals with as a city attorney (by the way, his brother J.F Valley, also our alum, is the mayor of Helena/West Helena). Carla Martin, a Wal-Mart Realty Transaction Manager and the most recent graduate on the panel, talked about how far we’ve come and how grateful she was to each of the panelists who paved the way for her. She did say, however, that issues still exist. Carla told about how, even with all of her accomplishments and achievements in law school, she was unable to obtain a job in a private law firm in northwest Arkansas. Fortunately, things have changed even in the years since her graduation. But her talk reminded us that while we celebrate the history and how far we’ve come, we should remember that we still have a little ways to go yet.

The commemoration was attended by several members of the University administration and we’re very grateful to them for their presence. Our distinguished guests included: Chancellor White, Chancellor Designee David Gearhart, Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics and Director of Athletics Jeff Long, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Johnetta Cross Brazzell, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Bob Smith and his wife, Marcia June, Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Diversity and Education Carmen Coustaut, Director of Affirmative Action Willyard Collier, Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations Richard Hudson, former Board of Trustees Chairman Lewis Epley and nationally recognized poet Miller Williams. We were honored that they joined us for the afternoon presentation film and panel.


That evening, the speakers (except for secretary Slater who had a previous commitment). Miller Williams, Dean Linda Ballard of the School of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, Chris Irwin and Mandel Samuels and their guests, the law school committee members who organized the event, and Provost Smith and his wife all joined us for a lovely dinner at Bordinos. We chose from salmon, steak or portobello mushroom lasagna entrees, all of which were delicious. Chancellor Designee Gearhart happened to be dining in the restaurant as well and joined us for a few remarks, which was wonderful. Each of us present that night reflected on Silas Hunt’s admission to the law school and how his admission affected us personally.

In light of the anniversary of Silas Hunt’s admission we have asked the registrar and the honorary degree committee to grant a posthumous degree to Silas Hunt. We think it’s time.