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. Hmmmmm ..... How does the good doctor's spells work on tyrants and unelected bureacrats with nearly unchecked power employing in closed hearings employing ad hoc procedures? Just askin'. ... Happy independence day to any and all out there who are "free" ... Unlike me.

    2. Today, I want to use this opportunity to tell everyone about Dr agbuza of agbuzaodera(at)gmail. com, on how he help me reunited with my husband after 2 months of divorce.My husband divorce me because he saw another woman in his office and he said to me that he is no longer in love with me anymore and decide to divorce me.I seek help from the Net and i saw good talk about Dr agbuza and i contact him and explain my problem to him and he cast a spell for me which i use to get my husband back within 2 days.am totally happy because there is no reparations and side-effect. If you need his help Email him at agbuzaodera(at)gmail. com

    3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

    4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

    5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

    ADVERTISEMENT