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Emory University School of Law’s faculty entered the search for a new dean like lions. With the exception of one last-minute debate, they appear to be leaving it like lambs. After a series of contentious gatherings, the prime debate at what six attendees describe as an otherwise peaceful Nov. 15 meeting involved Kathryn Urbonya. Urbonya is the wife of dean hopeful Davison Douglas and a tenured constitutional law professor at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. The Johnny-come-lately issue: Douglas and Urbonya are a package deal. “It is true that until the day before the meeting, Dave had not put this on the table,” says Jeffrey N. Pennell, chairman of the dean search committee and an Emory law professor. According to Pennell, Urbonya had been talking with Georgia State University’s law school, where she used to teach, about a position there. One day prior to the Emory meeting, he says, GSU told Urbonya it couldn’t hire her because of budget constraints. “Dave had made it clear that one of their expectations … one of their negotiating points, would be another way to put it … is that Kathy wants to remain in law teaching and that she, well, Dave and she both would expect that she would move to a comparable position in Atlanta,” he says. Now, says Pennell, Douglas wants Urbonya to have a tenured post at Emory. Timing, in this case, was everything. The meeting at which Pennell announced the Urbonya news was the one at which the faculty assessed all the candidates on a numerical scale, and then on a yes/no ballot indicated whether they’d vote in favor of tenure for Douglas. Information from the meeting, as well as other data about the candidates, then went to Emory President William M. Chace, who’ll recommend his choice for the law school’s new dean to the Board of Trustees. Pennell says Chace could make an announcement as soon as today; Chace’s office commented via e-mail, saying only, “The search committee has given me its report, and the process is continuing.” ADDING TO DEBATE Douglas’ request adds yet another layer to what already has been a much-debated dean search. Douglas, 45, teaches constitutional law at William & Mary’s law school, and is the only lawyer of the three candidates Emory is considering. Though the other candidates have doctorates, as does Douglas, they don’t have J.D. degrees. Harry N. Scheiber, about 66, teaches law and history at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. Thomas S. Ulen, 54, teaches law and economics at the University of Illinois College of Law. Several faculty members balked at Douglas’ request for a tenured post for Urbonya. They didn’t know Urbonya, hadn’t met her, hadn’t read her work and hadn’t assessed her scholarship. A “yes” vote on whether they’d recommend tenure for Douglas, then, essentially meant an unofficial “yes” vote for his wife, whose tenure had never been on the table. Pennell says that faculty members also were concerned about dealing with a faculty member who was married to the dean, and whether that would change their own relationships with the dean. In an interview, Urbonya wouldn’t discuss her talks with GSU or her career expectations at Emory. She did confirm that she started her first law teaching job at GSU in 1986, and became a tenured full professor before leaving 11 years later. She married Douglas in 1996, and joined William & Mary about a year later. ( Fulton County Daily Report, April 17, 1997) Urbonya went to the Virginia school as a tenured full professor, and teaches constitutional law, with a focus on � 1983 litigation. Her J.D. is from the University of North Dakota, and she clerked for a justice of the North Dakota Supreme Court and for Judge G. Ernest Tidwell of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia before joining GSU’s faculty. Without the addition of constitutional scholars Douglas and Urbonya, Emory already has at least seven faculty members, of the 58 listed on its Web site, who teach some form of constitutional law. The usual path to tenure is a multi-layered one in which law school faculty recommend a candidate to the dean, who then forwards that recommendation to the provost, who sends it to the President’s Advisory Committee. The committee then sends it to the university president, who sends it to the Board of Trustees. Though each entity in the process may recommend for or against tenure, only the board has the authority to grant or deny it. And the board does not have to follow the recommendations it is given. ‘PEACEFUL AND FRIENDLY’ After discussion, the Douglas/Urbonya dissenters agreed not to oppose Douglas, and tenured faculty voted on whether they’d recommend tenure for him, if asked. “The vote was overwhelmingly yes,” says Pennell. “When we voted, everyone was very peaceful and friendly,” confirms Emory Professor Harold J. Berman. Earlier meetings were not so pacific, with faculty fretting about the secrecy of the search committee’s process and two candidates’ lack of law degrees. The faculty members also resented their lack of authority in the selection process. Their votes and opinions are advisory only; President Chace has the ultimate say in recommending who will lead the law school. “As ardent, maybe rancorous as the prior meeting was, this one was notable in how completely different it was,” says Pennell. “I was just proud of our faculty for a thoughtful, even-tempered and really gracious discussion between the various voting [and] listing of preferences for candidates.” Pennell says he can understand the faculty’s desire to debate issues and to hold the search committee’s feet to the fire. Once the faculty had done that, and satisfied themselves about the committee’s processes, Pennell says tensions dissipated. Both tenured and tenure-track faculty also did a numerical assessment of the candidates. “We had essentially all three names on a slip of paper. We asked people to indicate on a scale of one to five — strongly favor to strongly disfavor — how they felt about each of the candidates,” Pennell says. Citing the confidentiality of the process, Pennell would not reveal the resuls of the faculty vote. “I can tell you that when you run the averages, the numbers — particularly the first two — were quite close. The differences were insubstantial,” he says. “Reporting that one person came out better than another may send an inaccurate message.” He says he doesn’t know how the discussions about Urbonya affected Douglas on the one-to-five scale. Pennell is careful to stress that despite the numbers and the votes, neither the faculty nor the search committee was ranking the dean hopefuls. “We specifically did not indicate that this was a ranking of the candidates,” he says of the committee’s report to the president. “We did not report to the president that this was your number one, your number two, that sort of thing. He can clearly see how the strength of the various tabulations broke down.”

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