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Indiana Tech dean's exit shocks backers

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It was the kind of offer that encapsulated Peter Alexander’s philosophy of legal education – he lent Fort Wayne attorney Dennis Geisleman use of his facility to practice opening and closing statements before a focus group in exchange for students being allowed to observe.

As dean of the Indiana Tech Law School, Alexander trumpeted the school’s curriculum with its heavy focus on experiential learning and bringing practitioners and real-world, hands-on training into the classroom. He made connections to Allen County lawyers and judges to have them mentor and advise the new students before the school opened.

Consequently, Alexander’s surprising resignation as dean has many in the Fort Wayne legal community questioning what happened. But attorneys said they will maintain the relationships with the school that were fostered by the former leader.

Dedication_4-15col.jpg Former Dean Peter Alexander (right) smiles as Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder recognizes him during the law school’s 2013 dedication ceremony.  (IL file photo)

“I’m sad and disappointed by the news, but I intend to continue to support the school, and I am looking forward for the accreditation process to be completed successfully,” Allen Circuit Judge Thomas Felts said.

Indiana Tech made the announcement May 23 that Alexander had stepped down as vice president and dean of the law school May 21. The university did not reveal the reason behind Alexander’s departure, but in a statement Alexander said he has achieved the goals he established for the institution and he has a desire to pursue other employment opportunities.

Although he also resigned his tenured faculty position, Alexander will remain with the school in a consulting role. The school did not detail what his specific duties would be going forward.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs andré douglas pond cummings has been named interim dean. He sought to reassure the community that the direction of the law school would not be changing.

“While Peter is and was a dynamic and charismatic leader, the vision is completely shared by me and the folks we hired,” cummings said, adding the vision and goals are not different just because Alexander left. “I think we’re totally and completely on track as far as what we set to do in the very beginning.”

Indiana Tech Law School is planning to add two or three new faculty members to its current staff of 11, cummings said. The school is taking applications and has set a goal of having 40 to 50 students in its second class.

andre-douglas-pond-cummings.jpg cummings

A committee of administration officials and law school faculty will be established soon to begin the search for the new dean.

Alexander joined Indiana Tech in January 2012 to help the university start what is now the fifth law school in the state. He was involved in multiple aspects from the design of the new building and development of the curriculum to hiring the faculty and personally recruiting students.

Attorney David Van Gilder, of Van Gilder & Trzynka P.C. in Fort Wayne, credited Alexander with getting the legal community talking about legal education and thinking about what a law school could do to assist the bench and bar.

“I just wish him the best,” Van Gilder said. “We’re going to miss him. He added a dimension to the legal community here that was sorely needed.”

Alexander also gave an opportunity to students who want to be lawyers but felt law school was way out of reach, Van Gilder said. Alexander impressed upon the students they could be successful.

In turn, Van Gilder believes those students will benefit Fort Wayne by practicing locally and bringing the diversity that is currently lacking in the legal community.

Prior to his tenure at Indiana Tech, Alexander was at Southern Illinois University School of Law. He served as dean from 2003 through 2009 and then remained on the faculty until 2012. He often said he was not actually looking to lead another law school but was attracted to Indiana Tech because he could build the school from scratch and put his ideas in practice.

cummings emphasized he understood Alexander’s vision for legal education and helped craft the new curriculum that incorporates collaborative and experiential learning.

“Peter and I were in lockstep all along,” cummings said.

Avery Avery

Before Alexander’s resignation, the law school had started the process of seeking accreditation from the American Bar Association. Obtaining provisional accreditation in the spring of 2015 is vital for the school to continue since their graduates would not be allowed to sit for the Indiana Bar Exam without the institution having ABA approval.

Again, cummings pointed out other faculty members besides Alexander were preparing the school for the accreditation review and they will carry on with their duties.

cummings said he has been captaining the process since it started and is co-chair of the committee that is compiling the self-study report due in August. In addition, Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder has contacted the ABA and informed it of Alexander’s resignation.

“We think it’s going to be pretty seamless as far as the accreditation application is concerned,” cummings said.

The law school summoned the students back to campus May 23 to tell them about Alexander’s departure. Many in the legal community found out after they returned from the Memorial Day weekend.

Allen Superior Judge David Avery said the news was unexpected and shocked the bench and bar. He could not speculate on what the resignation will mean for the school, but he did not anticipate it would negatively impact the school’s relationship with local attorneys and judges.

The school enlisted lawyers to mentor the students and invited members of the bar to lecture or make presentations to the students. From Avery’s perspective, it made sense for the new law school to cultivate that relationship and gain as much support as it could.

“I think Dean Alexander did a nice job when he was here,” Avery said. “He’s certainly the type of person if I was planning on going through this type of process of opening a law school … he’s the type of individual I would want to lead it.”•

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  • critical study
    he's deconstructing some kind of privilege no doubt. perhaps it is a protest against Capital-ism? Professors of the world unite!
  • Standard practice
    Is it fair to all Andre's to allow one andre to go uncapitalized? Not to mention all other Cummings, all other Douglas' and all other Pond's. Should we poll all using those names to be certain they agree with a downsizing? Ancestors? Other living relatives? And if the aforementioned adpc decides to go all the way and adopt some new symbol, like maybe a ampersand topped by a number sign, so we all have to invest in new keyboards to so replicate his symbol? Just wondering the protocols here? (Oh, and please call me Loretta)
  • Capitalization
    I understand that Mr. cummings does not capitalize his name, but when his name is the first word in a sentence it is not really up to him. The first word in a sentence should always be capitalized.

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    1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

    2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

    3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

    4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

    5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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