Double secret probation

December 10, 2012

My alma mater is in the news again.  This time, the Association of American Law Schools put Villanova Law School on a two-year probation following the grade inflation morass of 2011.

Villanova, as you may recall, was embroiled in a grade-inflation scandal in 2011.  It was one of the first of many such unpleasant events to surface that year.  The grade inflation scandal was the fallout from the resignation of former Villanova Law Dean Mark Sargent.  Sargent resigned as dean in 2009, but not in the wake of the grade scandal.  Oh, no, that would have been too convenient.

Sargent, you see, resigned after being arrested in connection with a major prostitution ring in Chester County.  Rather than face jail time, Sargent turned state’s witness and assisted authorities in taking down the rest of the ring.  Somehow, the grade inflation didn’t get recognized until later, in 2011. But Sargent’s resignation is itself a point of disgrace to Villanova, for a number of reasons, foremost of which was Sargent’s legal academic specialty: ethics.

Yes, Mark Sargent taught a series of courses at Villanova centering around ethics and Catholic social and legal theory and history (it’s an Augustinian school, and the fact that I as a Jew know that says a lot).  This is the same guy who, during first-year orientation, made it his point to personally deliver the heavy-handed (and necessary, but still) message that you MUST REVEAL ALL to the Bar Examiners, and even if you don’t, THEY WILL FIND OUT ANYWAY, and even if they don’t find out, YOU HAVE LIED BY OMISSION.  I wonder if Sargent had to disclose the prostitution arrest to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Disciplinary Board.

Anyway, the AALS has now given Villanova the proverbial slap on the wrist.  After all, if the ABA couldn’t be bothered to do much more than a 2-year public censure (Villanova had to disclose it on their website! Horror!), what weight does any other association’s opinion pull?

Where does that leave us now?  Well, undoubtedly, Villanova Law students and faculty are probably quite upset, but not surprised, by the latest turn of events. (If there are any reading, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.)  As for me, I may not have had the best grades back in law school, but at least I knew I worked for them.  The grade inflation mess bugged me then (and still does now) if only for the fact that it ultimately devalues the reputation a Villanova Law JD may have previously carried.  But at least I’m not joining a class action to sue my alma mater and be known forever as a whiny bitch.

BONUS!!  What else has gotten Villanova Law into the news lately?

– Earlier this year, administration of an exam turned into an utter cluster-fuck.

– Villanova plummeted from #84 to #101 in the US News rankings.  (That the US News rankings are still considered legitimate is a debate for another time, but still.)

– And finally, my Constitutional Law professor Catherine Lanctot was a 6-day Jeopardy! champion in 2007.