Law Schools

Duquesne Ousts Law Dean

Updated: Given a choice between resigning his post within 24 hours or being removed from the position, the dean of Duquesne University School of Law reportedly has opted to step down and return to a teaching job there.

“My reaction to this is shock. The school—really by a lot of people’s accounts, not just mine—has never been in better shape,” the now-former dean, Don Guter, tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

A retired U.S. Navy rear admiral and judge advocate general, the 60-year-old Guter had been in the law school dean’s post since Aug. 1, 2005. He says he was offered no explanation for the loss of the dean’s job, and a university press release, which confirms that he is being replaced on an interim basis by constitutional law professor Ken Gormley, also does not provide any reason for the change, according to the newspaper.

Under Guter’s watch, the number of law graduates passing the bar exam rose substantially. First-time takers of the July 2008 bar had a pass rate of 97 percent, compared to 68 percent when he stepped into the dean’s job, according to the Post-Gazette and the law school’s website.

But his tenure also included a dispute with the university president over whether to grant tenure, as Guter and the faculty recommended, to law professor John Rago, the newspaper notes.

A subsequent post by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog attaches a copy of the letter (PDF) sent by Guter to DU President Charles Dougherty. In it, Guter attributes the request for his resignation as dean to “personal animus” against him on Dougherty’s part.

As discussed in a later post, a number of students and alumni are protesting the now-former dean’s demotion,.

Additional coverage:

DU Daily: “Gormley Named Interim Law Dean “

Updated at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 to include Law Blog’s link to Guter’s letter and at 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 12 to include link to subsequent post.

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