ILNews

Indiana Tech dean's exit shocks backers

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

  • 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.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
     
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
     
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
     
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
     
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
     

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by
    ADVERTISEMENT
    Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
    1. State Farm is sad and filled with woe Edward Rust is no longer CEO He had knowledge, but wasn’t in the know The Board said it was time for him to go All American Girl starred Margaret Cho The Miami Heat coach is nicknamed Spo I hate to paddle but don’t like to row Edward Rust is no longer CEO The Board said it was time for him to go The word souffler is French for blow I love the rain but dislike the snow Ten tosses for a nickel or a penny a throw State Farm is sad and filled with woe Edward Rust is no longer CEO Bambi’s mom was a fawn who became a doe You can’t line up if you don’t get in a row My car isn’t running, “Give me a tow” He had knowledge but wasn’t in the know The Board said it was time for him to go Plant a seed and water it to make it grow Phases of the tide are ebb and flow If you head isn’t hairy you don’t have a fro You can buff your bald head to make it glow State Farm is sad and filled with woe Edward Rust is no longer CEO I like Mike Tyson more than Riddick Bowe A mug of coffee is a cup of joe Call me brother, don’t call me bro When I sing scat I sound like Al Jarreau State Farm is sad and filled with woe The Board said it was time for him to go A former Tigers pitcher was Lerrin LaGrow Ursula Andress was a Bond girl in Dr. No Brian Benben is married to Madeline Stowe Betsy Ross couldn’t knit but she sure could sew He had knowledge but wasn’t in the know Edward Rust is no longer CEO Grand Funk toured with David Allan Coe I said to Shoeless Joe, “Say it ain’t so” Brandon Lee died during the filming of The Crow In 1992 I didn’t vote for Ross Perot State Farm is sad and filled with woe The Board said it was time for him to go A hare is fast and a tortoise is slow The overhead compartment is for luggage to stow Beware from above but look out below I’m gaining momentum, I’ve got big mo He had knowledge but wasn’t in the know Edward Rust is no longer CEO I’ve travelled far but have miles to go My insurance company thinks I’m their ho I’m not their friend but I am their foe Robin Hood had arrows, a quiver and a bow State Farm has a lame duck CEO He had knowledge, but wasn’t in the know The Board said it was time for him to go State Farm is sad and filled with woe

    2. The ADA acts as a tax upon all for the benefit of a few. And, most importantly, the many have no individual say in whether they pay the tax. Those with handicaps suffered in military service should get a pass, but those who are handicapped by accident or birth do NOT deserve that pass. The drivel about "equal access" is spurious because the handicapped HAVE equal access, they just can't effectively use it. That is their problem, not society's. The burden to remediate should be that of those who seek the benefit of some social, constructional, or dimensional change, NOT society generally. Everybody wants to socialize the costs and concentrate the benefits of government intrusion so that they benefit and largely avoid the costs. This simply maintains the constant push to the slop trough, and explains, in part, why the nation is 20 trillion dollars in the hole.

    3. Hey 2 psychs is never enough, since it is statistically unlikely that three will ever agree on anything! New study admits this pseudo science is about as scientifically valid as astrology ... done by via fortune cookie ....John Ioannidis, professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, said the study was impressive and that its results had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community. “Sadly, the picture it paints - a 64% failure rate even among papers published in the best journals in the field - is not very nice about the current status of psychological science in general, and for fields like social psychology it is just devastating,” he said. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/27/study-delivers-bleak-verdict-on-validity-of-psychology-experiment-results

    4. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

    5. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

    ADVERTISEMENT