To UB Law Faculty and Staff,
This e-mail is in response to the major issues raised in relation to the resignation of University of Baltimore School of Law Dean Philip Closius. I welcome the opportunity to clarify the misleading and incomplete characterization of the University's relationship to the School of Law that unfortunately resulted from Mr. Closius' public statements.
The decision to seek new leadership for the UB School of Law involved considerable thought around multiple issues during an extended period of time. The ultimate decision was not about financial matters. Although management of University finances was one area of conflict between Mr. Closius and the University, it was not the only area of conflict. I am unable to discuss confidential personnel matters, and unfortunately I cannot provide full details concerning this matter. I can assure you that, based upon many conversations during the past few months, including conversations the provost and I had with approximately a dozen senior law faculty members, select alumni and UB Foundation officials, the overwhelming conclusion was that a change in leadership was in the best interests of the School of Law and the University of Baltimore..
Mr. Closius raised a number of issues in his e-mail to law faculty, staff and students, which he also chose to release to the local and national press. I will address the major, substantive issues below. Please know that I welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with the law faculty and staff to answer any questions that may remain.
University and Law School Finances
Mr. Closius' central complaint is that the University withheld 45 percent of the School of Law's revenue in the past academic year. In fact, in 2010, the year cited in the recent ABA site visit report, the University retained 13.7 percent of law revenue centrally, after allocating costs related to the law school's regular operation.
Using the 2010 data referenced in the ABA report, 42 percent of law school revenue was retained centrally in 2010 prior to the allocation of general operating costs. The law school's operating costs for 2010 all expenses attributable to the School's operation that are routinely absorbed centrally, including those related to basic functions such as human resources, technology, heat, light, security, etc. amounted to approximately $9.97 million. After these costs are allocated for 2010, the School of Law had 13.7 percent of its revenues retained centrally. UB's 13.7 percentage is well below the 2025 percent national law school average cited in the School of Law's 2010 self-study report, is considerably below the 2530 percent referenced by Mr. Closius from a recent New York Times article, and represents the lowest percentage among UB's schools and colleges.
Mr. Closius asserts that the UB administration did not provide accurate, transparent financial data regarding central University budgets and the law school allocation. All University budgets are matters of public record and are reported in the state's budget book. The University's internal budget process is open and participatory, with allocations published on the community's Web portal.
To address Mr. Closius' continued requests for budget clarification, I held an open meeting for law faculty early in the spring 2011 semester, accompanied by the provost and the senior vice president of Administration and Finance. At this meeting, I specifically stated that Mr. Closius' assertion that the University withheld more than 40 percent of the law school's revenue was incomplete and misleading because it did not take into account the School's indirect costs, expenses necessary to operate a law school.
After this presentation, Mr. Closius continued to assert that there has been no rationale or explanation of internal allocations. Because Closius shared this concern with the ABA site visit team, the recent ABA Accreditation Committee report requests that I and the law dean submit a report by March 2012 outlining our budget rationale and cost allocation. I look forward to submitting that report, as I am confident that it will address this issue definitively and satisfactorily. I will enter into a similar dialogue with the interim law dean, the law school's assistant dean of finance, and a representative of the law faculty to achieve agreement and understanding that was not possible during Mr. Closius' tenure. It should be noted that both the ABA and AALS review team reports state that the School of Law has sufficient funding to fulfill its educational mission.
Funding of the School of Law as a University Priority
In his e-mail, Mr. Closius indicates that "significant funding for the School of Law programs was not a University priority." This stands in stark contrast to the facts of the School of Law's recent growth and development. During my presidency, faculty has grown by more than 30 percent, while scholarships for law students have increased by more than 325 percent in the last five years alone.
Most notably, the University reordered its capital priorities in securing state support for a new facility for the School of Law. This decision was made, and state funding was approved, prior to Mr. Closius' arrival on campus.
It is true that tuition has risen at the law school during the past decade. When I arrived in 2002, law tuition was considerably lower than at comparable area schools. In addition, the University of Baltimore faced considerable funding challenges that impacted support of our academic program, especially professional offerings such as law. Raising tuitions to a level equivalent to regional public law schools has supported the transformative growth of the School of Law and of UB during the past nine years, including a substantial increase in scholarships for law students. As mentioned above, there has been a major commitment to increasing law scholarships as tuition has increased, with close to $2.5 million being added during the past five years. This increase almost doubles the $1.3 million Mr. Closius requested in his letter of acceptance for the UB law dean position.
We annually assess law tuition rates to ensure that UB is in line with the region's public law schools, and we will continue to monitor tuition to assure competiveness and equity.
Mr. Closius has provided a scenario of donor relations that is incomplete and inaccurate. As to the specific opportunity cited in his e-mail, he neglects to include the full range of facts that must be considered in securing major gifts, facts he was fully aware of throughout the process. During these negotiations, I discussed the $10 million amount with the USM and others, including an external development consultant. It was agreed that the proposed figure was substantially inadequate for a naming opportunity. This judgment has been reinforced by the recent naming at UMB for $30 million.
As is the case in all coordinated advancement operations, UB assigns certain individuals primary responsibility for specific major donors. In no instance was anyone prohibited from contacting donors, but internal coordination and communication was required to assure professional and effective institutional outreach. It is common practice for University presidents to maintain an exclusive donor list, in part to avoid redundant and potentially embarrassing contacts with major donors.
As noted in the ABA Accreditation Committee report, the UB School of Law continues to make considerable progress in terms of faculty quality and student success. At the same time, the entire University of Baltimore continues a period of transformative growth and development. As we strengthen our leadership moving forward, I am confident that this momentum will continue.
As always, I thank you for the work you do in advancing the UB School of Law.
Robert L. BogomolnyPresidentCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun