The planned merger between two St. Paul law schools could be about to get ugly, as a row has started over proposed changes to tenure rules.
Two professors from the William Mitchell College of Law have filed a complaint to stop the school's board from using its merger with Hamline University's School of Law as a way of eliminating tenured staff, the Star Tribune reports.
The newspaper notes that professors Carl Moy and John Radsan filed the complaint in Ramsey County District Court Friday, arguing that the attempt to change its tenure code is a breach of contract, and that professors should be awarded "costs, disbursements and further relief as the Court deems just."
According to MPR, tenured professors can only be dismissed for failure or refusal to perform their job, or in the event of a financial crisis, but the two professors say the change to the code would allow the school to dismissed tenured faculty in the event the college combines with another law school.
"I don't want us to come across as whining about this," Radsan told MPR. "We understand that we have no insulation from the ups and downs of the market."
"But what is very important to us is that if we're going to work at a law school, we want the law school to be a model for the rule of law."William Mitchell has 28 tenured professors. Hamline has fewer.
MPR notes that William Law has 28 tenured professors, with Hamline having fewer, but the merging of the two schools is expected to result in faculty cuts.
The merger was announced in February, which will result in the creation of the Mitchell|Hamline School of Law.
It follows a period since the recession in which law school enrollment has dropped to lows not seen since the late 1970s, as law firms cut back on roles during the financial crisis, while advances in technology has reduced the need for support roles.