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Charleston Law Loses Another President
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In just nine months, Charleston School of Law has seen two presidents resign.

Summary: In just nine months, Charleston School of Law has seen two presidents resign.

According to the National Law Journal, the trouble continues for the Charleston School of Law.


The interim president of the school, Joseph Harbaugh, has stepped down after less than three months with the school, citing unrest with the for-profit school’s ownership situation.

On August 27, Harbaugh said he was resigning, but added that he would try to continue working until October 1. After that point, he said he would be available as an “occasional consultant.” Harbaugh’s contract was to last until December.

Maryann Jones, the previous president of the school, held the title for just eight days before resigning in November. She said that fighting among the owners of the school pushed her to leave the school. Before Jones came on board, Andy Abrams, the dean of the law school, served as president.

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In his resignation letter, Harbaugh wrote, “My personal circumstances will not allow me to fulfill the obligations of the office through December 15, 2015.”

Harbaugh was appointed on June 5. He formerly served as the dean of Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center in Florida, as well as the University of Richmond School of Law.

Since August 2013, the law school has been tangled in a heated battle over the future of the school. Owners announced that the private law school would be sold to InfiLaw Corp., which owns three for-profit law schools: Arizona Summit Law School; Florida Coastal School of Law; and Charlotte School of Law.

According to the Post and Courier, Harbaugh also served on InfiLaw System’s National Policy Board.

Two of the remaining three owners, at that time, wanted to sell the school. The sole remaining owner, Ed Westbrook, pushed unsuccessfully to turn the school into a nonprofit.



The state legislature has been involved in the sale as well.

Many students and alumni have vehemently protested the sale to InfiLaw, arguing that InfiLaw schools have lower admission and bar passage rates. They have also expressed concern that the quality of education Charleston Law students receive would suffer.

A South Carolina Commission on Higher Education committee also voted against the sale in May 2014.

In July, Harbaugh said, “I would like to have this school transferred to new owners. It doesn’t matter to me whether they’re not-for-profit or for-profit. The situation here is so—dare I use this word?…The situation here is so toxic,” Charleston Business reported.

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Recently, two professors sued Charleston Law, arguing that they were terminated from their tenured positions because they opposed the sale to InfiLaw. In addition to those two professors, five other tenured professors were laid off in May. A judge recently ruled that one of the professors may not be terminated until her suit against the school is resolved.

Read about the judge’s ruling here.

Harbaugh said that the school operated at a deficit in 2013 and 2014 in court documents. In May, the remaining owners said it may not be possible to enroll a new class of students. However, a new class has enrolled at the school.

Read about that announcement here.

Source: National Law Journal

Photo credit: Post and Courier, (Westbrook)



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