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Students, Alumni Protest Ouster of Duquesne Law Dean

Posted Dec 12, 2008 12:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Angered by the abrupt demotion of a popular law school dean at Duquesne University to a faculty post, students and alumni are protesting.

Among those threatening to withhold donations is Robert Pierce Sr., a Pittsburgh attorney and DU law school graduate. He and his wife had pledged $500,000, in addition to earlier donations of about $500,000, but now are planning to withhold the money until now-former dean Donald Guter is reinstated or an acceptable explanation is offered, reports the Legal Intelligencer.

Pierce describes as "outrageous" the situation recounted by Guter, the article in the legal publication continues. Guter says he was called into university President Charles Dougherty's office at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and given a choice between resigning the as dean within 24 hours or being fired from the post.

In a subsequent letter to the university president, Guter pointed to the law school's moot court record and alumni bar-passage rate under his oversight and attributed the demotion to "personal animus" against him on the part of Dougherty, as discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.

Initially, the university offered no public explanation. However, in an e-mail to faculty yesterday, university Provost Ralph Pearson said the demotion was based on performance issues and said that Guter's removal as dean "was based solely on his failure to fulfill his responsibilities and live up to the expectations of his position," the Legal Intelligencer writes.

Meanwhile, discussions about the dean situation were rampant at a law school reception honoring donors yesterday, and the student government association approved by a 21-13 vote at a special senate meeting yesterday a no-confidence motion concerning Dougherty, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"I want to know why this happened," Jack Goodrich, the immediate past president of the law school alumni association, told the newspaper outside the reception. "I am shocked. This dean has done nothing but good for this community and for this university."

He says he doesn't plan to make his usual annual contribution to the school this year and has heard from other alumni who also plan to withhold donations.

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