Tropical Storm Allison blasted through Houston killing 22 people, flattening homes and drenching the University of Houston Law Center in mud and floods. That was 2001, closing out Nancy Rapoport’s first year as law school dean.
“Our computers survived only because our IT director risked his life to move classroom PCs to higher floors through the night of the storm,” Rapoport says.
The faculty and staff—some of whom lost their own homes—removed debris from buildings, scrounged supplies and aided students displaced by the storm. Despite the stress, Rapoport was exhilarated by the camaraderie. She never shed one tear of frustration.
Maybe that’s why her tears at a meeting with students and faculty six years later became a law school legend. The school had learned, just a week earlier, that it had fallen five spots (to 70th) in U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings.
Distraught faculty and students wrote scathing critiques of her performance on blogs and computer bulletin boards, noting the school had plummeted nearly 20 spots during her six-year tenure.