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Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Mich., plans to relocate to Ave Maria, Fla., in summer 2009 � but the move isn’t sitting well with the school’s faculty and alumni, who claim that the school’s leaders have not made a case for it. “We just feel it is risky to pick up a school that has been flourishing and move it to a place where we don’t know what the benefit will be,” said Richard Myers, a tenured professor at the school. “It doesn’t relate to whether we want to move to Florida, it’s just that the faculty as a group was never consulted on the proposal.” Myers said most of the faculty members wanted to learn the financial implications of moving the school, and he alleged that the board of governors’ feasibility study was not credible. “It [the study] misspelled the name of the school and [Tom] Monaghan’s name,” he said. “It didn’t look at the costs of the move or the financial benefits.” Monaghan is the founder of the school. The move of the 365-student school has been approved by the Ave Maria board of governors. Approval of the move by the American Bar Association is pending. The school received ABA accreditation in 2005. Bernard Dobranski, dean and president of the law school, disagrees with claims by faculty that they had no say in the decision. “There have been 14 or 15 instances where input from the faculty has been sought and received,” he said. “The board didn’t make this decision in an abrupt fashion.” The feasibility study was conducted by James White, former ABA consultant on legal education, and Frank Read, former president of the Law School Admission’s Council. It was not the only document the board used in its decision, although it is “silly to evaluate a document based on typographical errors,” Dobranski said. The objective of the feasibility study was not to look at the financial aspects of the move, but was focused on demographics and economics, he said. The board created its own task force to examine the costs and financial benefits, and the task force’s results were shared with the entire board, Dobranski said, adding that those results were not shared with the faculty because information from board meetings is confidential. The main reason the board voted to relocate the school was to share a location with Ave Maria University, a Catholic school recently opened in southwest Florida, near Naples, Dobranski said. “Moving will enhance our ability to perform our mission,” he said. “Many Catholics are moving into the area; it’s the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Florida not served by a law school.” Dobranski added that the legal community in southwest Florida has welcomed the idea of moving Ave Maria School of Law to the area. Ave Maria School of Law has no affiliation to Ave Maria University, but shares Monaghan as its founder. He also chairs the board of governors for both schools. The decision to move the law school comes at a time when professors have been unhappy with the law school’s governance. The faculty voted “no confidence” in the dean last spring, but the board of governors never met with faculty members to address those concerns, Myers said. “It’s unheard of for a dean to survive a ‘no confidence’ vote,” Myers said, adding that the faculty believes that its concern about the school’s governance should have been addressed before the decision to relocate was made. The faculty also filed a complaint with the ABA last year alleging the school does not comply with ABA standards. The contents of the complaint are confidential, but an ABA fact-finder did visit the school in mid-March, said ABA spokeswoman Nancy Slonim. No decision on the complaint has been made, but Myers said he believes the complaint could be a factor in whether the school receives acquiescence to relocate to Florida. Alumni are split Alumni of the law school, which opened in 1999, are split over whether the decision to move is a good one, said Brian Hoeing, a 2005 graduate of the law school and member of the alumni association’s board of directors. “I feel that it is a good opportunity,” he said. “It does have a downside with regard to the change and inconvenience for the faculty, but overall I think it is a good move.” David Krause, a 2003 graduate of the school who is also a member of the alumni board, has a different view, which he said is held by majority on the alumni board. Krause wrote a letter to the board of governors on May 1 asking them to justify their decision to move the school to Florida. He wrote that he hopes the “reasoning is not so blunt as ‘Tom Monaghan’s money.’ “ Krause is opposed to the move because he believes it is not a “relocation,” but an actual shutdown of the school. Since the law school is incorporated in Michigan, the Florida school would be a completely new school, he said. “If it doesn’t destroy the school, it’s going to come close,” he said.

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