The Opinion of the Faculty of Widener Law School, Delaware Campus, Regarding the Punishing of Professor Lawrence Connell (August 27, 2011)


Below are the names of the Full-Time Faculty of Widener Law School, Delaware Campus, arranged by their response to my inquiry into the punishment of Professor Connell by Dean Ammons. I have put information about the situation below the lists.

I categorized the faculty this way after emailing all of them except Professors Connell and Ammons and telling them I wishes them to choose one of the first three categories and that I would leave it to readers of this webpage what to think of those that did not reply to my email. I also told them I would include any explanations they wished me to add. You will find those later on this webpage, as well as the exact letter I sent them.

"I approve of punishing Professor Connell."
None

"I disapprove of punishing Professor Connell."
None

"I'm too scared to give my opinion on punishing Professor Connell."
None

Didn't reply
Sonia Baldia
Larry D. Barnett
Ann H. Britton
Maryann Brown
Francis J. Catania, Jr.
Ann E. Conaway
Erin Daly
Alice Eakin
Jean Macchiaroli Eggen
Jules Epstein
Iva Johnson Ferrell
Andrew J. Fichter
Stephen E. Friedman
Alan E. Garfield
Michael J. Goldberg
Susan L. Goldberg
Russell A. Hakes
Dana Harrington Conner
Robert L. Hayman, Jr.
Louise Lark Hill
David R. Hodas
Justin G. Holbrook
Sydney Howe-Barksdale
Leslie A. Johnson
Patrick J. Johnston
Alison Donahue Kehner
Alicia Brokars Kelly
J. Patrick Kelly
Susan A. King
Martin A. Kotler
Kenneth T. Kristl
Edmund B. Luce
Mary Ellen Maatman
James R. May
Doretta Massardo McGinnis
Mary Brigid McManamon
Nicholas A. Mirkay
H. Geoffrey Moulton, Jr.
Nathaniel C. Nichols
John F. Nivala
Edward Osei
Thaddeus M. Pope
Laura K. Ray
Thomas J. Reed
Paul L. Regan
Judith L. Ritter
Mary Ann Robinson
Jean K. Sbarge
Rebecca L. Scalio
Luke M. Scheuer
Michael J. Slinger
Andre Smith
Verne R. Smith
Leonard N. Sosnov
Andrew L. Strauss
Serena M. Williams
John D. Wladis
Micah J. Yarbrough

Didn't answer, but replied with a comment (see Faculty Comments below)
John G. Culhane
Lawrence A. Hamermesh

My lengthy commentary on the faculty response is here. There I also compare the situation to the scandal at Ave Maria some years ago, make some general observations on bureaucratic defenses, and discuss some game theory aspects, including the multiplicity of equilibria (duality really) in the game.


The Situation

Legal Insurrection tells the story:

Lawrence Connell is a tenured law professor at Widener Law School in Delaware. I have noted in prior posts that Connell was accused of a wide range of racist and sexist conduct directed at students in his classes and at Dean Linda Ammons (because of hypothetical examples Connell used in class).

Connell has sued, and also went through a university disciplinary hearing process. ... committee which heard the evidence found that Connell did not violate any university policy with regard to the allegations of racist and sexist conduct. ...

But on one charge Connell was found to have violated university policy. The Committee found that Connell’s reaction to the false accusations against him, in which he sought to vigorously defend both his job and his reputation, constituted “retaliation.” Here’s how the retaliation charge was framed (at page 41 of the Report):

The complainants have made several retaliation claims. In brief, they allege that Professor Connell has retaliated by (1) publishing information to other students detailing what transpired with his employment status, and describing what he termed, “preposterous accusations”; (2) threatening the students with lawsuits in the press and other external data outlets; and (3) serving subpoenas upon them at the beginning of their final exam period....

Dean Ammons recommended that the university suspend Connell for a year without pay, which the university accepted.

But Dean Ammons's recommendation, accepted by the university, went much further, demanding that Connell submit to a psychiatric evaluation, undergo "anger management” counseling, and issue an apology...

Links to various stories and items follow. Some of these contain links to the Widener committee report and other such items.

Faculty Explanations

Dear Professor Rasmussen:

Game theory is a pretty amateur effort if it fails to contemplate all available player options. I suggest a fourth position you should consider (the one I espouse), and there may be more. That fourth position is: I prefer to be judicious and await presentation of available evidence before taking a private, let alone public, position.

You are welcome to post this message.

Larry Hamermesh

My commentary on the faculty response is here




Dear Prof. Rasmussen:

I concur with my colleague, and would add only that your effort to squeeze us into the three boxes you've chosen is an embarrassment to reason.

You may post this message, as well.

Sincerely,

John Culhane
I did not contact the people below, but it is worth noting their names, since they are all implicated in the actions of Dean Ammons. I do not know what the Widener University School of Law Board of Overseers and National Advisory Council do, but we might reasonably assume that they oversee and advise the law school. Though I doubt they have any actual authority, I think they do have a moral duty to notice what Widener Law is doing and that we have the right to assume they support its policies in the Connell case, since it is what Widener University is best known for on the national scale . If any of them do not, I would be very happy to note that here.

I also include the names of the Trustees of Widener University. They actually do have authority over the Dean, and so bear ultimate responsibility for her actions.

I have removed one name from the lists below, of someone who resigned in August 2011, perhaps in connection with this. See Legal Insurrection, August 24 post.

These lists are taken from WIDENER UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, VOLUME 17 NUMBER 2 FALL 10. and http://www.widener.edu/about/administration/presoffc/leadership/trustees.asp . I would be happy to receive corrections.

The Widener University School of Law Board of Overseers

Eugene D. McGurk, Jr., Esq. ’78, Chair
Dean Linda L. Ammons, JD, Ex Officio
Renae B. Axelrod, Esq. ’91
Steven P. Barsamian, Esq. ’75
The Honorable Raymond A. Batten ’79
Scott E. Blissman, Esq. ’97
C. Grainger Bowman, Esq.
Michael G. DeFino, Esq. ’75
The Honorable Susan C. Del Pesco ’75
Risa Vetri Ferman, Esq. ’92
Geoffrey Gamble, Esq.
Jacqueline G. Goodwin, EdD
Matthew M. Greenberg, Esq., Ex Officio
President James T. Harris III, DEd, Ex Officio
Richard K. Herrmann, Esq.
Justice Randy J. Holland
Vice Dean J. Patrick Kelly, Ex Officio
Peter M. Mattoon, Esq.
Vice Dean Robyn L. Meadows, Ex Officio
Kathleen W. McNicholas, MD, JD ’06
Edward B. Micheletti, Esq. ’97
George K. Miller, Jr., Esq. ’81
Kathryn J. Peifer, Esq. ’02
Scott W. Reid, Esq. ’02
Thomas L. Sager, Esq.
The Honorable Thomas G. Saylor
John F. Schmutz, Esq.
The Honorable Gregory M. Sleet
Bernard W. Smalley, Sr., Esq. ’80
The Honorable Lee A. Solomon ’78
Philip Trainer, Jr., Esq. ’89
The Honorable Joseph T. Walsh
John A. Wetzel, Esq. ’75
Douglas M. Wolfberg, Esq. ’96

The Widener University School of Law National Advisory Council

Marc R. Abrams, Esq. ’78
Michael J. Aiello, Esq. ’94
Howard K. Alperin, Esq. ’90
Miriam Benton Barish, Esq. ’92
Carl W. Battle, Esq. ’82
Kyle D. Bowser, Esq. ’91
Alexander Bratic
Michael A. Brown, Esq. ’91
Charlene D. Davis, Esq. ’84
Claire M. DeMatteis, Esq. ’92
Dr. Robert D. Gober ’79
Ronald P. Goldfaden, Esq. ’76
Mitchell Gurwicz, Esq. ’95
N. Lynne Hughes, Esq. ’89
Brenda Alderman James, Esq. ’92
Wayne D. Kimmel, Esq. ’95
Alan B. Levin, Esq. ’80
Robert O. Lindefjeld, Esq. ’93
Kenneth J. Lopez, Esq. ’95
Harry Dillon Madonna, Esq. ’97
James J. Maron, Esq. ’85
Eugene D. McGurk, Jr., Esq. ’78
Franklin A. Miles, Esq.
U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Murphy ’99
John L. Reed, Esq. ’91
Cynthia R. Ryan, Esq. ’79
Leif R. Sigmond, Esq. ’90
Timothy J. Snyder, Esq. ’81
Alice W. Strine, Esq. ’92
Leslee Silverman Tabas, Esq. ’79
James J. Veneruso, Esq. ’75
Richard P. Zaretsky, Esq. ’75

The Widener University Board of Trustees

Executive Committee of the Board

Nicholas P. Trainer '64
Chair
Retired President, Sartomer Company, Inc.

John H. Tilelli Jr. '63,'96H
Vice Chair
President & CEO, Cypress International, Inc.

Karol M. Wasylyshyn, PsyD ‘82
Vice Chair
President, Leadership Development Forum

Paul S. Beideman ‘79
Treasurer
Retired Chairman & CEO, Associated Banc-Corp

Eugene D. McGurk Jr., Esquire ‘78L
Secretary
Partner: Raynes, McCarty

James T. Harris III, DEd
Executive Committee Staff Liaison
President and Professor of Education, Widener University

Board Members

Daniel Borislow '84,'05H
Director/CEO and Founder,
MagicJack VocalTec Communications
YMAX Corporation

Thomas H. Bown II '67
President, Charter Associates

Anthony R. Britton, Jr. '82
Managing Director, Royal Bank of Scotland

Pamela Browner - White
Vice President of Public Affairs,
Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Michael G. DeFino, Esquire ‘75L
Principal, DeFino Law Associates

James J. Hargadon '75
Retired Executive Vice President & CFO,
Oki Data Americas, Inc.

Ira Harkavy, PhD
Associate Vice President & Director
Netter Center for Community Partnerships,
University of Pennsylvania

James W. Hirschmann III '82
CEO,
Western Asset Management Company

James J. Mack III '85
Partner: EisnerAmper, LLP

Anna C. Miller '12
Student Trustee, Chemistry /Pre-Law Major

David W. Oskin ,'64,'07H
President, Four Winds Ventures

Derrick H. Pitts
Chief Astronomer & Senior Scientist,
Franklin Institute Science Museum;
Director, Fels Planetarium

Robert E. Samuel, DSc "91, '00
Senior Technology Architect, Aetna, Inc.

Cynthia H. Sarnoski, PhD '74
Retired Senior Vice President,
Global Compliance and Quality Systems,
Pfizer Pharmaceuticals

John F. Schmutz, Esquire
Retired Senior Vice President and General Counsel,
E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company

Ronald S. Stead, PhD
Senior Consultant, Academic Search, Inc.

Min S. Suh, Esquire '95L
Partner, Fox Rothschild

Richard L. Tan '09H
Founder and CEO
Pacific Millennium Group

Brian C. Tierney, Esquire '87L
CEO, Brian Communications and Realtime Media
Vito R. Verni ‘61
Chairman, Verco Properties, LLC

Stephen M. Wynne '77
Retired Chief Executive Officer,
US Funds Services
BNY Mellon Asset Servicing

Peter B. Zacharkiw '72, '77
President, Mardel Investments, Inc.

HONORARY TRUSTEES

Harry B. Bissell Jr.
Russell J. Bragg
Donald P. Walsh, Esquire


The Letter of Inquiry

"Dear Faculty of Widener Law School, Delaware Campus,

You all have heard about the Connell dispute. I know it is difficult to summon the courage to come to the aid of a colleague under attack from the Administration, or to know how to respond even if you do have the courage. My own field is game theory, the mathematical analysis of situations such as "Who will bell the cat?". I am going to try to make it easier for you to help Widener and harder not to help by putting up a webpage about faculty views. After I have heard back from you, I will complete the webpage on Wednesday night, August 17, and publicize it in the blogosphere.

The webpage is at http://rasmusen.org/special/widener.htm. The webpage is up now but the address is not publicly advertised nor is the page finished. Sor far, I have posted it just so you can see what it will look like.

Please reply to me at [email protected] choosing one of the first three items below:

"I approve of punishing Professor Connell."
"I disapprove of punishing Professor Connell."
"I'm too scared to give my opinion on punishing Professor Connell."

If you wish to add explanation, do so, tell me which parts you want published, and I will publish your comments verbatim on the webpage.

If you don't reply with a choice, I will put your name under "Didn't reply" and leave it to the webpage's readers to decide which of the three categories you fall under. Possibly you will provide explanation for why, contrary to what various bloggers say, Professor Connell should be punished. That's fine--- I just want to pin down where you stand.

Your dean will no doubt look at the page to see where you stand, but so will your family, friends, and everyone else in the world. The self-oriented incentives will perhaps be equally balanced, in which case disinterested public spiritedness can carry the day.

One lesson of game theory is that a situation like this has multiple equilibria and a player may benefit from communication and coordination, or from first committing himself and then communicating with others. This is particularly so here, where the value to one's reputation of being "A Member of the Widener Law Faculty" may be affected by others' answers. A useful reference might be my paper with J. Mark Ramseyer, "Cheap Bribes and the Corruption Ban: A Coordination Game among Rational Legislators," Public Choice (1994) 78: 305-327, though that does not model quite this situation.

Yours truly,

Eric Rasmusen


URL: http://rasmusen.org/special/widener.htm. Indiana University, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, in the Kelley School of Business, BU 456, 1309 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-1701, (812)855-9219. Comments: Erasmuse@Indiana.edu.