UM Law School Dean and Associate Dean Resign
Paul Kirgis, Dean of the Alexander Blewitt III School of Law has submitted his letter of resignation as of Thursday, October 7.
Below, find the text of that resignation letter.
‘To the Blewett School of Law Community-
I have come to the conclusion that the School of Law and its students would be best served by a change in leadership. Consequently, I have decided to step down as Dean. My priority is to make that transition in a way that minimizes disruptions for students, faculty, and staff. I will work with those groups and the Provost to plan the process and timing for this transition.
Associate Dean Sally Weaver has informed me that she will also step aside from her position. We will provide further information on that transition in the coming days and weeks.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve the University of Montana and the Blewett School of Law for the past six and a half years. Leading this law school has been the greatest privilege of my professional life. I look forward to assisting in every way possible to ensure the School of Law continues to serve its vital function as the academic center for law and public administration for the State of Montana.
PAUL F. KIRGIS | 406-243-5291
DEAN & PROFESSOR OF LAW
ALEXANDER BLEWETT III SCHOOL OF LAW
U N I V E R S I T Y O F M O N T A N A
A rally and demonstration on Tuesday attended by over 100 people called for Dean Kirgis’ resignation.
Earlier on Thursday The Associated Press wrote:
‘MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The University of Montana law school dean and associate dean will step down following allegations that they failed to take seriously reports of sexual harassment and assault. Dean Paul Kirgis wrote in a letter on Thursday to the Alexander Blewett III School of Law that he and Associate Dean Sally Weaver will step down from their roles. The letter came after around 100 students and community members staged a walkout and rally at the law school earlier this week calling for Kirgis and Weaver to resign. The University announced shortly after the walkout that they would launch an independent review “to assess the learning and working environment in the Law School.”
KGVO spoke with UM’s Director of Strategic Communications, Dave Kuntz who provided these comments:
"Late Wednesday evening Dean Paul Kirgis, who's led us prestigious law school for the last seven years, stepped down, he notified president Wagner and our acting Provost Reed Humphrey,” said Kuntz. “He has relinquished those duties as of this week. And going forward, the university will begin the transition to a new leadership for that law school that hopefully minimize disruption to students, and we can continue to recruit a strong class of new law school students in their next fall."
Dave, there was a rally held I believe it was Tuesday at the University of Montana campus calling for this these resignations. Any comment on that?
“This decision was completely Dean Kirgis’ decision,” he said. “Students have been vocal in recent weeks about some concerns that they've had. But really what we want to do here moving forward, is make sure that we're putting the success of our students at the center of everything that we do at the law school. And that starts with launching a really collaborative search between the law school faculty, staff, students and UM administrators, to find a new leader for that school, who continue to press forward and make sure that these students get the best experience they can possible before they joined Montana's legal community.”
“Does all this have anything to do with the lawsuit that was filed against the university as a whole just before classes started? I understand there were several women who said that they weren't being treated fairly there.”
“No,” he said. “This is completely unrelated. The university has investigated some of the claims that have been made against students and employees in the law school and to date has not found that there were any university policies violated, but still Dean Kirgis made the decision that he did this week. The university respects his decision and his service to the law school for the better part of a decade. Right now we're just focused on finding that temporary leadership who can keep the law school plugging away this year, as we get ready to launch a national search for a new leader.”
The law school was named ‘The Alexander Blewett III School of Law” in 2015, after a $10 million ‘naming gift’ from Alexander “Zander” and Andrea “Andy” Blewett of Great Falls.
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