Former dean and University of Cincinnati reach settlement

Updated May 10, 2017: Former Dean Jennifer Bard and University of Cincinnati have reached a settlement. The university vacated its decision to place her on administrative leave, and Bard agreed to withdraw claims for the violation of Constitutional rights and breach of contract. Bard has been granted two years of academic leave at her dean's salary of $300,000/year, and she will return to her tenured professor position in the College of Law in 2019. 

Original post, April 28, 2017:

By Tyler Roberts 

After being ousted last month, University of Cincinnati College of Law Dean Jennifer Bard has sued the university and its provost.

The complaint asserts interim provost Peter Landgren and the institution illegally placed Bard on administrative leave in March immediately following her response to local media reports about financial deficits at the college and faculty members’ responses to her efforts to reduce those deficits.

“I came to UC in good faith, deeply committed to addressing the College of Law’s failure to adapt to a rapidly changing legal market,” Bard said in a statement. ”I have no recourse but to protect my good name and encourage an open discussion of the deeply rooted and ongoing problems that existed here well before my arrival.”

In July 2015, Bard became UC College of Law’s first female dean and was appointed on a five-year contract. She inherited a multi-million dollar deficit when she began her tenure at UC College of Law. Her efforts to eliminate this deficit, she claims, caused a row with a small group of faculty.

Starting in the fall of 2016, a group of nine law school faculty members began communicating about a vote of no confidence in Bard as dean of the law school.

During Bard’s leadership, the law school saw a jump in national rankings, re-established relationships with disaffected donors, and increased the diversity of the law school. She was awarded a $15,000 bonus in recognition of those achievements. 

Interim provost Peter Landgren noted these accomplishments, but he also said that “Dean Bard’s accomplishments may have been achieved at the cost of other ideals (which are the heart of this conflict),” according to emails obtained by the Cincinnati Business Courier. 

After learning of faculty’s plan to hold a no confidence vote, Landgren outlined a three-pronged plan to improve Bard’s rapport with the law school’s staff. The plan involved coaching Bard to identify faculty’s concerns and develop effective ways to address them, mediated communication between Bard and the faculty, and periodic evaluations and metrics to assess the effectiveness of the plan.

The potential no confidence vote was written about in the Business Courier.

According to the statement from Bard’s attorneys, Landgren said in a March 24 “law school faculty meeting that Bard had done nothing illegal, immoral or unethical and there ‘smoking gun’ that prompted him to place her on administrative leave. 

In the course of her 30-year career, Bard has been admitted to four state bars, served as an elected member of the American Law Institute, and worked as a faculty member of numerous universities. She is a Yale Law School graduate and holds a Masters of Public Health and a Ph.D. in higher education. 

Verna Williams was named as the interim dean while Bard remains on leave. Williams has been with the UC College of Law since 2001 and co-directs the university’s joint-degree program in law and women’s studies.

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