Education

Public Law School Dean Resigns After Offering Counseling To Students Sad About Trump’s Victory

The dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s W.H. Bowen School of Law has tendered his resignation just days after sending a school-wide email explaining that he was making free counseling available to all students who were sad because Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.

YouTube screenshot/20th Century Fox, Shutterstock/Maria Sbytova   YouTube screenshot/20th Century Fox, Shutterstock/Maria Sbytova   

The dean, Michael Schwartz, announced his resignation on Friday, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The election season “was the most upsetting, most painful, most disturbing election season of my lifetime,” Schwartz, 54, wrote to his school’s future hardboiled attorneys in an email dated Nov. 14, according to The Arkansas Project, a website focused on the state’s politics.

“For those of you who feel upset, we have arranged extra on-campus counseling services today,” Schwartz wrote. “We will be offering 30-minute appointments between 2:30-6:00pm.” “Walk-in appointments” and, if necessary, additional appointments, were also on offer for would-be jurists so crushed by an election they needed therapy.

“No matter how you are feeling, the most important thing for you is to focus on your studies,” Schwartz instructed his tender charges.

“Our diversity is a strength and a goal that we need to cultivate in every way we can. Everyone deserves a safe, supportive, collegial learning environment,” the Arkansas-Little Rock dean also wrote. “Please reach out to your peers and let them know they are valued. And, if you witness someone being mistreated because of his or her politics, religious beliefs, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender, please do not sit silently by.”

A professor at the public law school, Robert Steinbuch, observed that he does not recall the administration offering grief counseling when Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008.

Steinbuch also called this year’s counseling unbecoming of any serious legal training ground.

“It’s a question of teaching people to be mature and modeling maturity. If you tell people every time they lose they’re entitled to counseling, you elevate the perceived level of wrong beyond what it is,” Steinbuch told The Arkansas Project.

“I recall when the Democratic Party won the presidency twice each of the previous two elections,” the professor also said. “I knew plenty of people who were disappointed at that time, but I didn’t know anybody that needed grief counseling. I think when we tell people that they need some form of grief counseling we are normalizing hysteria and suggesting there’s something immoral or wrong about our democratic process.”

Steinbuch’s disagreement with Schwartz over election counseling isn’t the pair’s first feud.

As Campus Reform notes, Schwartz had previously sought to prevent Steinbuch from viewing school records to study outcomes related to race-based admissions. Schwartz said looking at the records would violate student privacy.

Steinbuch ultimately filed a lawsuit to gain access to the public school’s admission records.

A group of professors at Arkansas-Little Rock responded to the lawsuit with an attempt to have Steinbuch officially suspended from grading students — on the theory that Steinbuch, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University (and previously an employee of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee), was biased against minority students.

In September, the Arkansas-Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law’s passage rate for the July 2016 bar exam was just 66 percent. By way of comparison, the July bar passage rate for graduates of the University of Arkansas School of Law was 78 percent.

“This is certainly not our worst pass rate in recent history,” Schwartz wrote at the time, according to The Arkansas Project. “On the 2009 and 2010 July bar exams we were at 64 percent both times. Nevertheless, I am sad for our students who did not pass and the alums and the law school.”

Schwartz, who makes $234,600 at taxpayer expense as the Arkansas-Little Rock dean, will officially leave his administrative position on June 30.

The median household income in Arkansas is $41,264, according to the United Census Bureau.

Schwartz will continue to teach at the school.

It’s not clear if Schwartz’s Nov. 19 resignation is related to the counseling services he offered to students on Nov. 14.

“I extend my sincere thanks to Dean Schwartz for his hard work and commitment to the law school and am happy he will continue to contribute to the success of the law students we serve,” Arkansas-Little Rock provost Zulma R. Toro said in a statement obtained by the Democrat-Gazette.

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