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In a brief posting on the University of Houston Law Center Web site, Nancy B. Rapoport announced April 17 that she was resigning as the dean of the law school effective May 31. She has held the position since August 2000. “I approached every one of my decisions with a simple goal: to make this school a better place for its faculty, students, staff, and alumni,” Rapoport said in her surprising resignation letter. Perhaps it was only coincidental, but in recent days Rapoport has been at the epicenter of a controversy surrounding the law school’s decline in the newly released U.S. News and World Report 2007 law school rankings. The school fell five spots to 70th place among the 180 ABA-accredited law schools ranked by the magazine. The rankings provoked a stormy faculty meeting on April 7, which was attended by around 100 students who pressed Rapoport for a solution to stem the decline. “Students are more worried about what the rankings will do to their placement opportunities rather than the actual ranking itself,” Rapoport told Texas Lawyer in an April 12 interview. “There is no way for U.S. News to measure what truly goes on at the educational program of the school.” Rapoport may not have helped herself by the way she handled the meeting, dealing with other agenda items before she addressed student concerns. “No one had a lot of fun at the meeting, and students were frustrated because they had to wait until the end of the agenda,” she said. “I would have done a better job of explaining which forum was appropriate for hearing the discussion. I did not want students to get the impression that we didn’t want to talk about the rankings.” One thing that Rapoport attempted to do immediately after the faculty meeting was establish a committee of students, faculty and alumni –a Rankings Task Force, as she called it — to investigate all avenues to improve the school’s standing. “One of the purposes is to get some fresh eyes and new perspectives and to give people aside from me an opportunity to weigh in,’ she said. But for some this might have been too little too late. By Friday, April 14, postings on an associates’ Internet message board claimed that Rapoport had resigned. This was followed on April 17 by the announcement of Rapoport’s resignation on the law school Web site. She called on the law school community to come together and support her eventual successor. “With your help, I am certain that this school can continue to achieve great things in the years ahead,” she wrote in the resignation letter quoted in the posting. History Rapoport came to UH with an impressive practical and academic resume. From 1986-91, she was an associate with San Francisco’s Morrison & Foerster, where she practiced bankruptcy law. From 1996-1998, she was associate dean of student affairs at Ohio State University College of Law. From 1998-2000, she held the positions of dean and professor of law at the University of Nebraska College of Law. But with her deep Texas roots — she was born in Bryan and attended at Rice University as an undergraduate — and her parents living in Houston, she told Texas Lawyer in an April 20, 2000, story that “I’ve always said that there was literally one school that I would drop everything for, and that was UH.” Rapoport did not return a phone call seeking comment before presstime. But in an April 17 press release that followed the Web posting, the University of Houston stated that “Rapoport said her plans may include a year-long sabbatical and a return to the UH faculty as a professor. Other options include an offer of a named professorship in bankruptcy law at another law school and several offers to serve as a visiting professor.”

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