Law Schools

Florida law dean hopes school will rescind his firing; faculty resolution also supports him

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Anthony Varona, dean of the University of Miami School of Law, has been fired, leading tenured faculty members and Varona himself to call for a reversal of the decision.

Julio Frenk, president of the school, announced Tuesday that Varona’s deanship will end July 1, but he will remain as a professor, in which he can make a more “meaningful and lasting contribution” than in a job carrying administrative burdens., the Miami Hurricane and Inside Higher Ed have coverage.

Varona has a scholarship that focuses on media, gender and sexuality law. He was previously general counsel and legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a group seeking equality for LGBTQ people, according to the Miami Hurricane.

Frenk’s announcement mentioned the current capital campaign, which culminates “in four short years,” and the “rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to mobilize significant resources on behalf of Miami Law.”

Tenured faculty members adopted a resolution, available here, saying they were “surprised and shocked” by the firing, and they are asking for reconsideration of the decision. In less than two years on the job, Varona led the law school through the COVID-19 pandemic, kept the school “on sound financial footing,” and built systems responsive to rankings and bar passage challenges, the resolution said.

Varona issued this statement: “I am moved by the large outpouring of support from many colleagues, students, alumni and friends in South Florida and across the nation. They have shared with me their shock, concern and even outrage. I remain stunned by my baseless termination, disturbed by how I have been mistreated, and concerned by how all of this will affect our great law school and university. I am hopeful that clarity and fairness will prevail as we move forward, and that the university’s decision will be rescinded. I continue to give my all to Miami Law and our community members—including our graduates preparing for the summer bar exam.”

Varona’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said in a statement the firing decision is “an egregious violation” of Varona’s legal rights and “an assault on longstanding and important principles of faculty governance and administrative due process.”

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