Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Third Tier University of Baltimore School of Law Flushes Dean Phillip Closius Down the Drain
Law School Tuition Bubble pointed out that Closius was recently ousted by the 117th best law school in the land:
“Dean Phillip Closius sent an e-mail today reporting that the university’s president asked for his resignation on Thursday and it’s effective now. Why? Because Dean Closius told the ABA that the university was looting the law school, and the ABA requested an explanation. He writes:
For the most recent academic year (AY 10-11), our tuition increase generated $1,455,650 in additional revenue. Of that amount, the School of Law budget increased by only $80,774 [!]. I do not know of any law school in the country receiving such a small percentage of its generated tuition revenue. A recent article in The New York Times noted that a 25-30% revenue retention by a university was considered high by national standards. As of academic year 2010-11, the University retained approximately 45% [!] of the revenue generated by law tuition, fees and state subsidy. Using any reasonable calculation of the direct and indirect University costs, the University was still diverting millions of dollars in law school revenue to non-law University functions.”
His Philosophy on Gaming the Rankings:
“When I was a candidate for this job,” said Phillip J. Closius, the dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, “I said ‘I can talk for 10 minutes about the fallacies of the U.S. News rankings,’ but nobody wants to hear about fallacies. There are millions of dollars riding on students’ decisions about where to go to law school, and that creates real institutional pressures.” [Emphasis mine]
"Mr. Closius came from the University of Toledo College of Law, where he lifted the school to No. 83 from No. 140, he said. Among his strategies: shifting about 40 students with lower LSAT scores into the part-time program. Because part-time students didn’t then count in the U.S. News survey — the rules have since been changed — Toledo’s bar passage rate rose, which helped its ranking.
“You can call it massaging the data if you want, but I never saw it that way,” he says. Weaker students wound up with lighter course loads, which meant that fewer of them flunked out. In his estimation, a dean who pays attention to the U.S. News rankings isn’t gaming the system; he’s making the school better.
Unfortunately, he says, not all schools play fair.” [Emphasis mine]
By the way, Closius’s old school, i.e. the University of Toledo, is no longer ranked 83rd. In fact, it is now in the fourth tier. I guess Phillip does not care much about long-term improvement. Also, how does manipulating figures make the school better?!?!
“Reducing the size of the entering class will also help us avoid the need for increased academic attrition rates at the end of the first year. If a school keeps placing additional students in academic jeopardy, the admissions office is usually required to admit larger classes in the succeeding year. Unfortunately, in the market of the 1990s, more students usually meant less qualified students. This in turn necessitated higher attrition. We hope that our downsizing will help us avoid this downfall.” [Emphasis mine]
This law review article is entitled “The Incredible Shrinking Law School,” 31 U. Tol. L. Rev. 581, 582 (2000). On page 585 Closius concludes: “Downsizing may not be appropriate for every school.”
What a beacon of integrity, huh?!?! It is CLEAR that this man is merely looking to help his school’s reputation.
In a November 21, 2010 interview with The Daily Record, Closius said:
"Law school is a professional school. It's not like you're going to become an English major because you've always wanted to read 'Beowulf.' At the end of the day, people come to law school because they want jobs," he says. "If we can't get people where they want to go, we've failed to a certain extent." [Emphasis mine]
"For good or bad, this is a rankings culture. I can't fight that aspect. It's just part of the deal," he says. "You cannot, in the 21st century, be a dean of a law school and not pay attention to these rankings. It's just too important."
I suppose that Phillip Closius, a highly-educated man with degrees from Notre Dame and Columbia, feels that he must go along with this idiotic ranking system.
"If you come to UB, the bulk of students are going to have to be able to deal with a $90,000 debt service on a $65,000-a-year salary," he said. "That's not easy."
The school, incidentally, has raised tuition 77 percent in the last 7 years.
"The only thing that justifies it is, so is everyone else in the law school world," Closius said.” [Emphasis mine]
Yes, that is a great rationale for your conduct, Phillip!
“The building project has a total budget of $107 million, of which $92 million will be contributed by the State of Maryland. The School of Law was responsible for raising the remaining $15 million in private funds and met that goal in March, 2010, thanks in large part to a generous $10 million donation from Peter Angelos, LL.B. ’61.”
Apparently, the sewage pit did not feel that applying some of these donations to fund scholarships would be a wise investment. At least, the school can still attract large donors - including the taxpayers . Although I’m not sure how this is going to help recent third tier commode JDs find employment.
“Schools that have "gamed" the rankings system in the past are unapologetic. The article offers the example of Phillip Closius, dean of University of Baltimore Law School, which elevated its rank to 125 from 170 by cutting the number of full-time students and adding more part-timers. Says Closius:
U.S. News is not a moral code, it's a set of seriously flawed rules of a magazine, and I follow the rules...without hiding anything.
Just as a Closius' ability to improve rankings made him a hero, deans who fail to take rankings seriously may find themselves the goat.” [Emphasis mine]
“One of the top beneficiaries of the current U.S. News criteria is Phillip Closius, former dean of the University of Toledo's law school. He led the school's rise from the list's fourth tier to its second tier within a few years. After he took the helm of the University of Baltimore law school last year, that school also quickly climbed the rankings, to 125 this year from 170 last year, he says. (Schools in the third and fourth tiers aren't publicly ranked -- instead they are grouped together -- but deans can find out where they placed.)
Mr. Closius's winning strategy in both places: Cut the number of full-time students accepted into the program to boost the median LSAT scores and GPAs, which together account for more than 20% of a school's ranking. In their place, the schools add more part-time students, who can transfer to full-time the second year.
Mr. Closius says having some students complete fewer classes at first gives them a better chance of academic success. He says he also made other changes that improved the school's ranking, including keeping better track of graduates' employment status after graduation. The moves benefit students, he says: At Toledo, more large law firms began interviewing students after the school's ranking climbed, and at Baltimore, he recently got multimillion-dollar grants and donations for a new building.” [Emphasis mine]
Conclusion: In the final analysis, Phillip Closius was unapologetic when it came to gaming the rankings system. After all, everyone else does it. Which makes such disgusting conduct okay, right, Phillip?!?! He was upset because he felt that the University of Baltimore was taking too large of a cut out of his law school’s tuition increases, i.e. loot. Don’t mistake his complaints as a man standing on principle. Why don’t you head to the 135th ranked private toilet known as New York Law $chool?! They are in need of a new dean. Plus, you will not need to split your gains with university personnel. Plus, if you are somehow able to take this trash pit into the second tier, people will see you as a savior. (Plus, I will then be able to look up your big-ass salary, from the dung heap’s IRS Form 990.)
Posted by Nando at 5:33 AM