A Lounge reader reached out to let me know that Penn State Law’s dean search has been unsuccessful (announced to the faculty by the provost) and that at least some faculty have been unhappy with the search process and a perceived lack of faculty input. This seems to be a recurring theme these days -- see for example, this previous discussion regarding the Florida dean search, this one about the SLU interim dean appointment, and this item regarding DePaul law school.
In the case of Penn State, the complaints apparently include search committee composition, a lack of openness and communication during the search process, the way in which candidates were vetted, and whether (or the extent to which?) faculty are polled on their views of candidates. Some of the discontent may also stem from the law school’s recent rankings drop. As Above the Law reported in March:
Penn State, fresh off separating its campuses into two separate law schools, continues its downward descent into oblivion by losing another 15 spots in the rankings, following up on a 20-spot drop just last year. To think, Penn State was once so close to being ranked as a Top 50 school.
Of course, there have probably always been tensions and disagreements surrounding the level of faculty involvement in a dean search. But the enrollment crisis at many law schools and consequent budget tensions with the main university may have exacerbated the issue in recent years. I don’t have a personal knowledge of these events and am simply passing on the information as its been told to me. Readers who do have a personal knowledge of the situation at Penn State are, of course, invited to comment.