Law Dean Hits University Tuition Grab in Widely Distributed Resignation Letter
The dean of the University of Baltimore’s law school has agreed to resign, but he’s not going quietly.
The dean, Phillip Closius, emailed a resignation letter to the law school community on Friday that aired his differences with university officials, Above the Law and the Baltimore Sun report. In particular, Closius criticized law school tuition increases that benefit the university rather than his students.
For the most recent academic year, Closius said, a law school tuition increase generated nearly $1.5 million, but the school of law budget increased by only about $81,000. In all, the university retained about 45 percent of the money generated by law tuition, fees and state subsidies for the year, he said.
“We have increased our in-state tuition over 70 percent and our out-of-state tuition over 48 percent in the last seven years,” Closius wrote. “Of our students in the 2010 graduating class who borrowed money, the average law school debt was over $95,000. Media reports continually criticized the rising costs of legal education. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable justifying tuition and fee increases to law students when the money was actually being used to fund non-law university initiatives.”
According to Closius, a July 27 report by the ABA’s accreditation committee raised similar concerns about the percentage of law revenue retained by the university, though it generally praised the condition of the law school. He was asked to resign the next day.
He also cited a disagreement over naming rights. Closius said he had negotiated a $10 million deal for naming rights to the law school, but the agreement fell apart when the school later demanded $20 million.
The university announced a nationwide search for a replacement on Friday, and said Closius would return to teaching after taking a yearlong sabbatical, according to the Baltimore Sun.