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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

FIU Dean Search II: Oops

In my earlier post on the news accounts of the FIU dean search, I likened a mainstream media accounts of a law dean search to accounts of judicial proceedings--ripe for context to be lost in translation. I was more right than I thought.

It turns out that the ten people mentioned in the newspaper stories are not finalists for the job in any sense; those were ten candidates that were discussed during that meeting (which was attended by a Herald reporter). Other candidates also were discussed. Other candidates will be discussed at the next meeting. And Alex Acosta, the outgoing United States Attorney who was the focus of both newspaper stories, was at the top of the list because the list was alphabetical. So, contrary to what the media reports suggested to some observers, we actually were not doing anything "strange" compared to other dean searches, such as presenting twice as many finalists or identifying and highlighting one person as a "leading" candidate early in the process. The reporter apparently completely misunderstood what had occurred at the meeting.

The committee is taking steps to publicly correct the (mis)perception, to preserve the efficacy and workability of the search and to ensure all candidates (mentioned in the article and not mentioned in the article) that no firm decisions have been made.

Update:

The text of the public statement is after the jump:

Search for new College of Law dean moves forward

MIAMI (Feb. 12, 2009) - The search committee charged with finding FIU College of Law’s next dean discussed a preliminary list of candidates this week.

This list, published in several media outlets, is not a final slate of candidates. In future meetings, the committee will consider these and other candidates and will continue to solicit applications for this position until it is filled.

“We have, and continue to receive, applications from throughout the country to lead this young and promising law school,” said College of Medicine Dean John Rock, who is heading the search committee. “We will not settle on anyone until we are absolutely certain that we have chosen the right candidate.”

The next meeting of the search committee will be on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 9 a.m.

The current dean, Leonard P. Strickman, came to FIU in January 2001 as a professor and founding dean of the College of Law.

Under his stewardship, the College of Law received accreditation in the fastest time allowed by the American Bar Association. Graduates have passed the Florida Bar Exam at rates exceeding the statewide pass rate and at the most recent examination, in July 2008, FIU graduates passed at the second highest rate when compared to graduates from all law schools in the state of Florida.

Strickman will remain a member of the law faculty after he steps down as dean this summer.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 11, 2009 at 10:57 PM in Howard Wasserman, Life of Law Schools, Teaching Law | Permalink

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Comments

It has also been reported in the Florida press that Senator Mel Martinez may succeed the current president at FIU. While neither one is an academic, with Martinez and Acosta at the helm FIU will be well positioned to tap into the bank of South Florida's Cuban community.

Posted by: Flalaw | Feb 13, 2009 8:44:01 AM

It sounds as if higher education in the state of Florida is a terrible mess, and that state legislators and the media are politicizing law school deanships as well as university presidents. I had heard that universities that FSU and FAU had already politicized in their presidential searches by announcing local politicians as "frontrunners" in ways that scared off credible applicants. It is sad if that is happening to FIU as well, but I can tell you that anyone holding back to put their name in the hat is now not going to be applying to FIU!!!!

Posted by: anon | Feb 12, 2009 4:18:22 PM

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