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A new start for a new year.

2 Jan

 

The official 2012 LMU Christmas Print.

The official 2012 LMU Christmas Print.

While many Lincoln Memorial University faculty and staff enjoyed an extended break to spend the holidays with their families and recharge from the fall semester, there was a small group of dedicated employees that worked throughout the break. With a December 31, 2012, deadline to get the University’s second application for accreditation prepared for the American Bar Association (ABA), the clock was ticking and the “war room” was a busy hub of activity throughout December.

Preparations for the second application commenced shortly after the announced changes to the administration on October 24. It was then that LMU hired seasoned legal consultant Leary Davis to guide the strategic planning process. In the weeks that followed LMU announced that it was dropping its lawsuit against the ABA and that it would reapply for accreditation with the waiting period waived by the ABA. Next, LMU welcomed a new director of admissions in Randy Mathews to help recruit new students. The final move in the overhaul was the appointment of Parham Williams as interim vice president, interim dean and professor of law.

LMU-Duncan School of Law Interim Dean Parham Williams. Photo by Patrick Murphy Racey

LMU-Duncan School of Law Interim Dean Parham Williams. Photo by Patrick Murphy Racey

 

All the while the pieces of LMU-DSOL’s new administration were coming into place, central figures since its founding — Associate Dean and Librarian Gordon Russell, Associate Academic Dean April Meldrum, key faculty members including Professor Bruce Beverly and librarians Katherine Marsh and Jordan Gilbertson — were working on LMU’s new self study, strategic plan and ABA application.

A base of operations was set up in what was became known as the “war room”, a conference room complete with round-the-clock snacks, reams of paper, files, documents and a white board. Steady preparations were made from October through November and the activity kicked into high gear once Dean Williams arrived. On one of the last official days that LMU was open before the holiday break the entire faculty of LMU-DSOL gathered to review the application. The day-long meeting wrapped up, yet there was still work to be done on the application. For the next three days the war room was abuzz with proofreading and revision after revision. Finally, the group took a brief three-day respite for Christmas before returning on Dec. 26 for one last push on the application.

It took a marathon session of round-the-clock work on Dec. 30, before the application was sent off right on deadline the next day. As 2012 came to the close, a new chapter for LMU-DSOL opened up. This next phase will span another year as the University moves through the ABA accreditation process. Later this month the chair of the site team will make its first visit to Knoxville to review the facilities and offer suggestions to the school in advance the full site visit which will happen later this spring.

Following the site visit, the team will make its recommendation to the Committee and Council on accreditation. The University won’t know the outcome of the application until possible December of 2013, which is why this is truly a new start in this New Year.

The elephant in the room

9 Jul

If you’ve have been following this blog, you may have noticed a big elephant in the room. AbeSquare is intended to be a place where you can drop in and check out all that is happening at LMU. It’s meant to be less formal than a press release, kind of a look behind the scenes on what is happing at the University.

So if this blog is going to live up to its intention, it is time to address the elephant in the blogsphere. That elephant is the John J. Duncan School of Law and its bid to gain provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association. It’s a topic that has been a hot button in certain circles on campus for much of the last year. For me personally, it has been a tightrope I’ve tried to inch across by doing what is best for the University. Aside from the storm damage in Harrogate, it was probably the biggest story for LMU last week.

To step back a little and provide a little background, LMU’s journey to ABA accreditation began in early 2008 when the University took over the lease of the Old City Hall building in downtown Knoxville. Shortly after the lease signing, LMU Trustees announced its plans to found a law school. Initial planning and a feasibility study were performed. In August of the same year, a founding Dean, Sydney A. Beckman, was hired and faculty began to come on board.

All the while, the administration of the new law school was working with the goal that the school would eventually be ABA accredited. However, there were more important steps in their path. First, the University had to gain Tennessee Board of Law Examiners and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approval to start to recruit students. After both bodies gave the okay, LMU announced that it was naming its newest professional studies school after Tennessee Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr., a long time public servant and supporter of LMU. Recruiting the first class was already underway and the Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL) was just months away from opening its doors.

In August of 2009, LMU-DSOL’s inaugural class was seated and sworn in as first year law students. The University could not even apply for ABA accreditation until their first year of study was complete. So the next year was spent recruiting a full-time cohort to join the part-time students in the second year of operation. All the while, LMU’s administration was preparing for applicant status with the ABA.

As soon as it was eligible, LMU-DSOL applied for and gained applicant status with the ABA. This step, set LMU on the nearly two years and counting odyssey that has resulted in Thursday’s announcement by the ABA that LMU-DSOL has been denied provisional accreditation. The news came after LMU appealed the ABA’s initial denial in December and after LMU filed a lawsuit against the ABA.

LMU administrators are actually in a meeting now as I type this, determining the next steps the University will take.

So here it is, the elephant in the room. LMU-DSOL has been denied provisional accreditation by the ABA. While there is not a lot of inside scoop or behind-the-scenes information I can share right now, I can assure you that LMU still intends to have an ABA accredited law school and we are going to keep fighting the good fight until we reach our goal.

 

 

 

 

Order of Protection Day at LMU-DSOL

13 Apr

According to the website www.domesticviolencestatistics.org , the costs of intimate partner violence in the US along exceeds $5.8 billion per year. Of that total, $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion. Every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. Studies also show men who as children witness their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own partners than sons of nonviolent parents. These stats paint a grim picture of a serious and wide reaching topic.

Students, faculty and staff of the Lincoln Memorial University-John J. Duncan, Jr. School of Law peered beyond the statistics on Thursday as Knox County 4thCircuit Judge Bill Swann brought his entire order of protection docket to us. The day that took months of careful planning was an opportunity for DSOL students to put faces on an issue that can impact all levels of American society. It also gave the students the unique learning experience of observing how domestic violence issues can be resolved through the legal system.

Judge Bill Swann makes a point during the orientation period of the LMU-DSOL Order of Protection Day

 

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual to exert power and control over another person, usually in an intimate relationship. It can be physical, sexual or psychological. The primary purpose is to control, to dominate or to hurt another within the relationship. Domestic violence may occur between a male abuser and a female victim; a female abuser and a male victim; two women; or two men. The Domestic violence statute also extends protection to the elderly and to children.

 

Special Master Harbor hears a case during LMU-DSOL Order of Protection Day.

On Thursday, Judge Swann’s docket included nearly 300 cases. The 4th Circuit holds Orders of Protection hearings once a week, unless holidays disrupt the schedule. Order of Protection dockets are always held on Thursdays. Judge Swan said that the docket usually averages over 300 cases and he uses two special masters to hear all the cases. A special master is appointed by a judge to supervise those falling under the order of the court to make sure that the court order is being followed.

At DSOL, the Order of Protection day began with an orientation presented by Judge Swann. This included distribution of resources for victim services, information on where to get help, details about how court would proceed and a question and answer period. Throughout the process Judge Swann took care in making specific points to the DSOL students in attendance. A great advocate for legal education, this was the ninth time Judge Swann has taken the docket on the road. Throughout the day Judge Swann paused to give DSOL students pointers on the law and clarify proceedings. He also spent his lunch recess addressing he students and answering questions. The students who participated were grateful for the experience.

LMU-DSOL students were given the opportunity to observe the proceedings and also ask questions during a special session over the lunch recess.

 

Thursday’s Order of Protection day marked the second time DSOL students were able to witness court proceedings held on campus. In August 2011, the Tennessee Supreme Court heard oral arguments in three cases, including one death penalty appeal.

 

I am a…

19 Mar

Last year, LMU rolled out three new television spots. The 30 second spots were aimed at promoting the Caylor School of Nursing, the Carter and Moyers School of Education and the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. They were the first in a series that will ultimately include a total of eight spots on LMU and its individual schools and programs. The spots are written by Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations Kate Reagan and produced in conjunction with WBIR-TV in Knoxville where they will also air. WBIR’s Michael Wiseman directed and produced the two of the four current spots. This week, LMU unveiling the next installment…

I Am a Lawyer.

Lincoln Memorial University 2012 Law Program from Michael Wiseman on Vimeo.

Secret Service, pizza boxes and Santa hats? All in a Day’s Work

14 Dec

To say my job is varied is sometimes an understatement. Today for example, I have pondered the Secret Service, a judicial scandal, the Board of Professional Responsibility, Santa hats and pizza boxes. It may seem very random, but it’s a typical day in LMU PR and Marketing. Actually, it was a pretty light day. As finals are upon us and graduation looms on Saturday, we are getting to the ONLY slow time that my office experiences during the year.

One of my favorite parts of my job is handling media relations. It’s a part that I don’t get to do as much as I would like, but it always adds excitement to my day when I pick up the phone or open an email with an interview request for one of our administrators or faculty members. Lately, my phone has been busy. As the fallout continues from the Judge Richard Baumgartner’s official misconduct charges, faculty from the LMU-Duncan School of Law have been “go-to” legal experts for both WBIR and WATE. Visiting Professor of Law Chuck MacLean was featured in this report for WATE http://www.wate.com/story/16309294/prosecutor-breaks-silence-on-judicial-diversion-for-ex-knox-county-judge. Externship Director Richard Gaines has also weighed in on the topic on WBIR http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=193868  and has been quoted in the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s coverage. It is always my goal to get reporters exactly what they need when they come to us. This is vital to make sure that LMU becomes their first stop when they are looking for experts, and mine is the first number they call. Plus if we take good care of them, they are more likely to take care of us when we have an announcement to make, etc.

Pulling into the LMU-DSOL parking lot this morning, I was reminded of how nice our facilities at the Law School are. What reminded me was our student receptionist who was acting as a bouncer of the parking lot. This brings us to that Board of Professional Responsibility I mentioned earlier.  The Tennessee Supreme Court initiated the Board with the mission to make lasting contributions to society – by assisting the legal profession to maintain high standards of skill and conduct, a commitment to the rules of professional conduct and a desire to render useful and efficient legal services at affordable costs in a manner which is accepted as decent behavior. Earlier this fall, LMU-DSOL hosted the Tennessee Supreme Court while they heard arguments. The State’s highest court must have liked our hospitality, because its Board asked for us to host a disciplinary hearing today. The proceedings were open to our faculty and students and offered a great learning experience for both groups. The case they were hearing was actually pretty high profile and that is why I rearranged my schedule to be here. We expected to see some media at the hearing, but it must have been a busy morning for news because no one came.

 Sometimes, that is just how the cookie crumbles in PR, which brings me to the Secret Service. Without getting too deep into our preparations for the arrival of our esteemed Winter Commencement Speaker, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, I will have my first brush with the Secret Service this week. Should be interesting, but that is all that I’m at liberty to say!

Now, onto the pizza boxes and Santa hats… You might have heard that our Railsplitter basketball team is undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the nation. It’s big news for us and our community has been great in coming out and supporting our team when it plays in Tex Turner Arena, but LMU students will be going home for the semester break soon and we have over 5,000 seats to fill, so we could always use more support. Athletic Director Roger Vannoyand Coach Josh Schertz have worked out a deal with the local Papa John’s Pizza franchise to put flyers on all of their boxes. They asked me to help them come up with the flyer. This also covers the Santa hat, as I am ashamed to say it took me way too long to figure out how to put a Santa hat on Coach Schertz. But I finally got it.

What do you think?

 

 

Taking Homecoming on the Road: Duncan School of Law

1 Oct

LMU Homecoming 2011: Celebrating Our Creative Legacy

Homecoming officially kicks-off on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tenn., in 13 days. The annual event got underway ahead of schedule last evening with what is sure to become a new tradition – Homecoming events at extended learning sites. Director of Alumni Services Donnie Lipscomb teamed with LMU’s Women of Service to host a Homecoming gathering at the Duncan School of Law. Congressman Jimmy Duncan was also on hand and sponsored the food at the event.

After a week of mid-term exams, a celebration was in order.

Students at DSOL spent the week taking exams, including their final mid-term which took place immediately prior to the Friday night barbeque. Once the final exam was submitted, the students were greeted with hot dogs, beans, potato salad, chili and a sea of desserts.  Additionally, a corn hole tournament was held and door prizes given out.

Congressman Jimmy Duncan shared stories from his early law career.

DSOL Dean and Vice President Sydney A. Beckman kicked off the event and invited Congressman Duncan to speak. The Congressman chatted with students throughout the event and shared a few stories from his legal career before congress with the group. Students, faculty, staff and their families all joined in the fun.

As we continue to take Homecoming on the road, our next stop will be LMU-Cedar Bluff on Tuesday.

More photos from the event:

 

Congressman Duncan greets DSOL students at the Homecoming gathering. The gathering was a family event.

 

DSOL student leaders Kyle Vaughan and Matt Ooten.

 

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1317736135&f=h1ogeT7rbd3Sx5Uk5MdjVQ&d=115&m=p&r=240p&volume=100&start_res=240p&i=m&options=

Woefully behind, trying to catch-up

9 Sep

This has been a busy week at LMU. So busy, I have fallen way behind on this blog. I have attempted to catch back up all week, but at the end of the day, it’s the end of the day and I’m out of time. So here we are at 10:26 p.m. on Friday night. So let’s hit the highlights of the week and call ourselves caught-up. I’ll try to start new with the daily posting next week.

Monday brought a rainy Labor Day to LMU. Classes were cancelled and offices were closed and it turned out, the City of Harrogate Labor Day festivities were called on account of rain. The annual celebration which takes place at the Harrogate City Park includes live music, family activities and fireworks. The celebration has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 17 beginning at 3 p.m.

Tuesday, another rainy day, took me to the LMU-Duncan School of Law where everyone is busy preparing for accreditation events. For my part, I arranged a last minute photo shoot to highlight some of the smaller, but no less equipped, study rooms.

 

East Tennessee Foundation grant presentation.

Wednesday, the rain was finally clearing, brought a new session of Staff Senate with a gaggle of new staff representatives including yours truly. The meeting served as an introduction to the organization for us “newbies” as Staff Senate Chair Julie Longmire reviewed the accomplishments of the past year and went over the projects that were being carried over to this year. New officers were also elected. I literally walked out of that meeting and into the next event. The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum had been selected by the East Tennessee Foundation to receive a $2,500 grant and ETF Senior Vice President for Programs and Regional Development Terry Holley travelled to Harrogate to make the presentation (I will share more on this in a future entry). No sooner had I snapped the last picture at the presentation than my phone began to ring. It was Lieutenant Adam Howland with LMU ROTC and they were presenting a huge scholarship to one of our students. It was really a milestone for LMU’s ROTC program which is in the midst’s of a reboot after dropping off the campus landscape for a while (again more on the presentation in another post). I capped the day with a visit to the Math Science Building site to take some photos of the project’s progress. The trip wasn’t exactly planned, so I was dressed appropriately for a construction site. With all the rain, I was lucky to escape without ruining my dress shoes.

 

Marshall Chapman performs.

I started my day on Thursday in Harrogate for a homecoming meeting. I hit the road before noon heading back to DSOL to finish the ABA photo project. Later that evening Writer-in-Residence Darnell Arnoult welcomed Marshall Chapman for the opening of the Appalachian Reading Series. Chapman, a Nashville-fixture, is an accomplished songwriter and essayist. She even stared alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw in the movie Country Strong, she played Paltrow’s road manager. The program was co-sponsored by the Music Department. Chapman performed her music and read from her new book, They Came to Nashville. Afterwards, she met with the crowd and signed books.

 

Marshall Chapman signs Charlie Allen's kindle during the Appalachian Reading Series event on Thursday.

 

And I’m not really sure how Friday got away from me so quickly, but here I am, signing off at 11:11 p.m. (make a wish) whew…. What a week.