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Chief of Albany Law School Scolds Faculty Over Buyouts

Earlier this year, Albany Law School targeted eight teaching positions that would be eligible for buyouts in an effort to cut expenses. Now, an unknown number of professors are willing to leave the school for buyouts, according to The Times Union.

“We intend to work closely with those individuals as part of a confidential process designed to address their needs and enable a smooth transition. At the same time, we are reviewing the financial implications, with an eye toward minimizing disruptions in programs and service,” according to a statement issued Monday by Daniel P. Nolan, the chair of the school’s board of trustees and Board Vice Chair Jim Kelly.

In a letter sent to the faculty on April 15, Nolan scolded the professors for creating a ‘smear campaign’ against Dean Penelope Andrews.

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He also wrote that the messages sent to the trustees from the Faculty Long-Range Planning Committee were “filled with many statements that are inaccurate or unfairly taken out of context” and “filled with distortions and untruths by anonymous posters. It contains personal attacks and questions the good faith of many actors.”

Trustees will no longer accept anonymous letters sent through the faculty committee as official communications. If anyone wants to send letters they must go to Nolan directly or to an “appropriate committee chair on behalf of the board.”

Nolan also wrote that he and the trustees would continue to fight “significant financial challenges We have many ideas from the faculty that were put forward over the last year, including furloughs, salary reductions and other means.”

The Times Union was able to obtain some of the anonymous letters. One of them said the following:

“Faculty morale is at an all-time low Our primary concern is that shared governance (whereby the faculty must have substantial, meaningful engagement and decision-making concerning law school governance), a requirement of American Bar Association accreditation, has not been observed or respected here over the past 18 months. The recent buyout offers, although certainly more welcome than the board’s planned involuntary ‘head count reductions,’ have done very little to address these deep concerns.”

Another anonymous letter said that Andrews’ “leadership style is creating fear, a hostile work environment morale has become so low with both the faculty and the staff that no one wants to come to a place that we all used to look forward to in the morning.”

Association of American Law Schools spokeswoman Kara Tershel said the group “is not mediating between the faculty and the school.”

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