Barry University president Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin and Tim Czerniec, the university’s senior vice president for business and finance, were in a conference call one day last spring with Barry’s attorneys. They were discussing their bid for buying a private, ailing, nonaccredited law school in Orlando.

Their offer: $14 million — less than what the university, located in Miami Shores, Fla., had offered two years earlier when its bid was turned down. Not only was O’Laughlin bidding less, but before ending the meeting she gave firm instructions: The university was not to offer a dollar more. The seller could take it or leave it.

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