In my last post, I incorrectly reported that up to two-thirds of Charlotte Law Faculty had been terminated, based on early reports from other media sources. I have now had the opportunity to gather more reliable information, and can report that just under half of the instructional faculty were terminated, in what the school has described as a “reduction in force.”
In all, it appears that 18 of 39 teaching faculty members were terminated. In addition, the Associate Dean of Library & Information Services and the Director of Academic Success were axed. Disturbingly, for a school comprised almost entirely of high risk students and with an extremely poor and declining bar passage rate, two of four academic success lecturers were terminated, and two of three bar passage lecturers were also fired. The firings were across all ranks, including two of four full professors, four of ten associate professors, and seven of sixteen assistant professors. The school also fired three full-time clinical faculty members, denying their requests for a reasonable opportunity to wind down their many active cases, placing them in a difficult ethical position.
The faculty is not only much smaller now, but is substantially less diverse, as the firings fell disproportionately on women and minority members of the faculty. Of the 18 members of the faculty fired, fully half were minorities and 11 were women. Overall 9 of the 18 faculty members of color were fired (50%) and 11 of the 18 women faculty members were fired (61%), while just 3 of 14 white men were fired (21%). Dean Jay Conison, another white male, did not fire himself, either.
As disturbing as these numbers are, the way in which the firings was carried out is perhaps even more disturbing. The fired faculty members, including some with up to four and half years remaining on their employment contracts, were given less than two weeks notice until the termination of their pay and benefits, and were reportedly offered only one month’s pay, with no benefits, in severance, even for professors with many years of service to the school. The receipt of this severance was conditioned on the signing of a general release of all claims against the school and agreeing to a non-disparagement clause and other terms designed to prevent the faculty members from airing the school’s dirty laundry (and there is plenty of it, trust me).
Charlotte School of Law has characterized the firings as a reduction in force, but multiple faculty members have reported to me that the administration did not comply with the contractual requirements for declaring a reduction in force, making the legality of the terminations questionable, to say the least.
Many of the faculty members are consulting with counsel and weighing their legal options. Expect multiple lawsuits by the faculty in addition to the multiple lawsuits already filed by students.