Annette Clark, School of Law dean, resigns due to disagreements with the Administration

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Annette Clark’s Resignation Letter

Annette Clark’s Letter

President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. response.

Annette Clark, former dean of the School of Law at Saint Louis University, announced in a public letter to President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. and Vice President Manoj Patankar today that she will resign from her deanship due to differences in administrative judgement. Clark also administered a letter to faculty announcing her resignation, explaining her reasoning for her decision.

“It is the ultimate irony that a Jesuit university would operate so far outside the bounds of common decency, collegiality, professionalism and integrity. I simply cannot be a part of, and I assure you I will not be complicit with, an administration that can’t be trusted to act honestly and in the best interests of its faculty, staff and students,” Clark said in the letter to Biondi.

Citing discrepancies in funding for the School of Law, research stipends, renovations for the new building and obstacles regarding reaccreditation, Clark said in the letter to Biondi and Patankar that she no longer has confidence in their abilities or their commitment to the well-being of the institution.

Biondi responded to Clark’s untimely resignation in a statement to faculty and staff of the School of Law this afternoon.

In his statement, Biondi explained that he and Patankar had scheduled a meeting with Clark this morning with the intention of terminating her position as dean. Clark did not attend the meeting, instead sending both the president and vice president her letter of resignation.

“[Clark’s] emails to Dr. Patankar and me, and to the faculty and staff of our School of Law, demonstrate a lack of a clear and comprehensive understanding of the duties and obligations, autonomy and authority of a modern day dean at a large and complex university. Because this is a personnel matter – per University policy – we will have no further comment except to say that I strongly disagree with many of her interpretations of the facts. Moreover, her assertion of a lack of support for the the law school could not be further from the truth,” Biondi said in the statement.

Clark, who previously acted as former interim, vice and associate dean of Seattle University School of Law since 1989, was named dean for SLU Law last spring. She has held the position slightly more than one year since July 1, 2011. She received her M.D. with honors from the Washington School of Medicine and her J.D. summa cum laude from Seattle. Her background in both health and law, as well as her Jesuit education, made her an ideal candidate for the dean of SLU Law, an institution nationally ranked for its health law program.

“Professor Clark truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing law schools today and has a clear vision for how our School of Law will thrive and grow well into the future. Having taught at a Jesuit law school she also knows the critical role our mission plays in education our students and serving our community,” Biondi said in a statement in 2011 regarding Clark’s selection as Dean last year.

Prior to Clark, the position of dean was held by Jeffrey Lewis since 1999. Lewis is now a  full-time professor in the School of Law.

Assuming the position of dean for the 2012-2013 academic year is Thomas Keefe, a ’78 alumn of the School of Law and practicing attorney in Belleville, Ill.