Law Schools

Wyoming law dean resigns, cites lack of 'meaningful consultation' on recent decisions

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University of Wyoming law dean Stephen Easton has resigned and is airing the reasons why in an email sent to students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The email (PDF), noted by TaxProf Blog, cites a lack of “meaningful consultation” in recent important decisions affecting the law school. The Laramie Boomerang and the Casper Star Tribune have stories.

UW President Bob Sternberg said in a news release that he was unable to persuade Easton to remain in the job and he was sorry he felt the need to resign. The news release also reveals Sternberg’s plan for a task force that will provide input on the law school, including how the school serves the state with regards to energy law.

The task force was a specific concern, Easton told Star Tribune. He also cited “difficulties in communication with President Sternberg.”

Sternberg acknowledged in a Star Tribune interview that the law school did not have a chance to weigh in on the decision to call a task force, or on who would be its chairman. But its recommendations will be strictly advisory, Sternberg said.

In the widely distributed email, Easton says he will continue as a faculty member at the school, but he can no longer be effective as dean. He says the school needs to offer a comprehensive legal education, rather than one focused on a particular area of law. And he says the school needs to follow accreditation standards that require the dean and the faculty to formulate and administer the educational program of the law school. Though he has welcomed others’ suggestions, Easton says, the law faculty and law dean must govern.

“Recent events cause me concern in this regard,” Easton wrote. “Important decisions affecting the College of Law have been made without meaningful consultation with me or others on the faculty. If the concerns that have led to this lack of consultation are with me, my resignation will remove this impediment and clear the way for the effective faculty governance of the College of Law that the accreditation standards require. I cannot continue to serve as your dean while critical decisions are made about the College of Law without the input of the administration and faculty of the college.”

Sternberg told the Star Tribune he asked Easton to reconsider several times. “I really do think it’s important for all units to get feedback on how they can do better,” he said.

Five key university leaders have resigned since Sternberg took over on July 1, the Star Tribune says. They are a provost for academic affairs, three associate provosts, and the college of education dean.

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