Sullivan Speaks About Bowen Law's Financial Troubles
I am regularly reminded that Arkansas’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a thing of beauty. You’ll recall that Bowen Law School’s new affirmative-action program, LEAP, has been a subject of extensive discussion here before; because of a recent FOIA request, we’ve also discovered that it’s also been a subject of extensive discussion within the law school.
In fact, we discovered that Bowen Professor J. Thomas Sullivan recently summed up many of our concerns in a recent letter to his colleagues. In that letter, Sullivan alludes to several questions that are related to LEAP: namely, Bowen has largely ignored his “concern … about what a poor bar passage rate says about the Law School [and] the quality of practice in Arkansas [which] is lower than anywhere else where [he] practiced” – furthermore, the architects of LEAP have overlooked the troubling fact that “the rationale for the program is that the program will somehow result in our graduates moving to the Delta to provide representation to poor, rural, underrepresented propositions – a wholly fanciful proposition.”
Sullivan also raises serious questions about the financial honesty of Bowen’s administration, suggesting that Bowen’s governing faculty have been asked to make consequential budget decisions in a climate of financial opacity. He suggests that Bowen has demonstrated a lack of “respect for faculty governance in calling for decisions to be made in financial darkness,” and that it has proceeded with “a use of public funds to finance individual private obligations that might not even be legal.” Can students “expect to get the true assessment, as reflected in the [Law School’s budget] memo, or some spin in which we claim that things are actually looking better”?
Sullivan’s letter, which he refers to as a “rant,” generated several responses from Bowen faculty and administrators. For those who want to know what’s going on at Bowen, the whole thing is worth reading: you can view the PDF here.
One thought on “Sullivan Speaks About Bowen Law's Financial Troubles”
If the Deans of this school really want better bar passage rates, then they should try actually behaving in a humane way to students with GPAs teetering on the pass/fail edge. I recently had an “extremely discouraging”– no– a “downright unfairly dehumanizing” meeting with one of the Deans of this school. He seemed intent on scaring, chastising, and dejecting me into dropping out instead of displaying one iota of concern for supporting me academically (or morally) at all. I should mention that this dean knew that my low grades coincided with family emergencies outside of my control. Maybe a little encouragement would help students like me, instead of leaving us with the thought that at least one of the guys in charge must be the type John Lennon had in mind when he wrote “How Do You Sleep At Night?” I hope that the Dean’s true answer to Lennon’s question would not involve sad oblivious non-self-actualization, empty relationships, substance abuse, or elitist principles, as are so stereotypical of this hopefully-not-godforsaken career choice. But however sad the Dean might be, much like how a sullen child can be forced to conduct himself civilly, he could at least try to dredge up a smile for the peon student across the desk, instead of piercingly staring like some depraved, deranged, cold robot of the system whose judgmental, piggish thoughts have become so routine that they’re pitifully transparent. I mean, they’re the ones who admitted me to the school…. but then it’s open season on the student, if and when the Dean decides that they shouldn’t have taken that gamble on a particular one. The only problem is that the students aren’t numbers; we’re human beings. I feel embarrassed to attend a school where any of the Deans show out this way; that kind of blatant spiritual depravity/ lack of humanity is nauseatingly, pathetically disgusting, and I don’t want to be associated with guys who prioritize like that. I’d rather be a failure than a miserable jerk. It’s not going to kill your bar passage rates to be nice. Would a dean rather go to the grave with great bar passage rates as he is known for having the personality of a large, loud, stubborn and obtuse donkey, unable to display signs of normal human sentience like commiseration or compassion toward students, annoyingly hee-hawing his arrogant timbre in the barnyard to the end? Or would he rather like to be remembered as nice, and maybe even boost bar passage rates that way in spite of his previous card-carrying bitter recalcitrant personality traits of a donkey’s hindquarters? The thing is, even if the Dean doesn’t care about any of this, I do, and I’m paying for the education that his conniving tactics and overtly self-serving, oppressive motives would like for me to abandon. As a matter of fact, a Dean’s being nice and making an effort to be personable, helpful, or even sincere might boost the bar passage rates; he might quiet those pesky troublemakers like me with the audacity to have tragedies and emergencies in our lives that might produce inconvenient numbers for the Deans; he might elicit responses from students besides distance, anger, disgust, or pity for whatever horrors are housed behind the masks of the head honchos.