Texas Wesleyan University School of Law announced on June 13 that Aric Short is serving as interim dean and professor, effective June 1. He succeeds Frederic White, who served as dean from the fall of 2008 until his five-year dean contract ended in May.
Short, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment, recently served as associate dean of academic affairs and professor of law at the Fort Worth law school, according to the school’s announcement.
The leadership change occurs as Texas Wesleyan University and Texas A&M University are working to finalize a deal in which A&M buys the law school to create an A&M law school. [See "A&M to Pay Millions for Texas Wesleyan School of Law," Texas Lawyer, June 20, 2012, p. 1]. The schools hope to close the deal in August, prior to the fall semester, says Texas Wesleyan spokesman John Veilleux.
Texas A&M is proceeding with plans to begin law school classes in Fort Worth for the fall semester, writes Pamela R. Matthews, A&M’s vice provost for academic affairs, in an email statement forwarded through a university spokesman. "We note, however, our plans are subject to approval by our accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), as well as the American Bar Association," she writes. "Our proposal to acquire the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law is on the agenda for the SACSCOC Board or Trustees’ meeting June 17-20. If approved by SACSCOC, implementation would normally be expected to occur within 30 days, but we have asked for an exception — a delay of an additional month — in order to accommodate a final decision in early August from the American Bar Association concerning accreditation."
During his year-long sabbatical, which began June 1, White says he’ll be researching and writing about consumer and housing law. He’s also working on a humorous novel titled, "Who’s Law School is it Anyway?" based on his experiences as a dean at Texas Wesleyan and Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco.
He has tenure at Texas Wesleyan Law School but says it is too early to talk about his plans beyond the sabbatical.
When asked, White lists the following major accomplishments during his term as dean: In January 2011, the law school obtained full membership in the Association of American Law Schools, which it had been seeking since 2003; the law school increased the percentage of graduates giving gifts to the school from two percent to nine percent; the law school put faculty who teach legal writing on tenure tracks rather than traditional multi-year contracts; and it hovered near or above the statewide average for the percentage of graduates passing the Texas Bar exam on their first try.
Although he believes that Texas Wesleyan’s pending agreement with A&M is the catalyst for replacing him as dean, he believes the agreement will be good for the school.
"It’s going to be a good thing for the Fort Worth community, the law school and the students," White says. "Institutionally, I think it’s a good thing. Taking my ego out of it, it’s good for the school’s alumni and friends."
In the law school’s announcement, Texas Wesleyan University President Frederick G. Slabach writes, "In making this appointment, I have been in close consultation with the provost and dean of faculties at Texas A&M University. Aric received overwhelming support for this appointment from the law school faculty and was the consensus choice of both Texas A&M and Texas Wesleyan."
Slabach did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.