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Law dean investigation complete, decision to be communicated to UNB community

The results of the external investigation on the UNB law school fiasco were reported to UNB vice-president academic Tony Secco on Monday.

The investigation, conducted by law professor emeritus Neil Gold of the University of Windsor, was initiated on the request of the university to help resolve the recent issues at the law school, including allegations of harassment against law dean Jeremy Levitt.

“Prof. Gold … has spoken to a number of individuals at the law school as part of his review of allegations by faculty and staff involving Dean Jeremy Levitt,” said Secco in a memo to law students.

“I will be taking time to review the report carefully before deciding on what action is required to ensure a respectful and collegial work environment at the law school.”

Secco also said that once a decision is made, it will be communicated to the UNB community but to “[keep] in mind that sensitive and confidential personnel matters are involved.”

Confidentiality has been a common theme in the issues at the law school – going as far back as the search process for the dean of law.

Although dean search processes usually include a presentation to students, the search for the dean of law omitted this step. The names of the candidates were not released to law students or the wider UNB community.

“Given the probability of having high-profile candidates to whom confidentiality during the interview process would be essential, the search committee decided at the outset that this search would be conducted in confidence. The process did include presentations by candidates to which members of the law faculty were invited,” said UNB spokesman David Stonehouse.

The hiring process for the dean of law began in the fall of 2013 and ended in March 2014. It followed the same timeline as the searches for the dean of engineering and the dean of nursing.

The search committee recommended Levitt after a process which included on-site visits by the candidates and a presentation to faculty.

Stonehouse said that an offer to Levitt was made after a “360 reference check” by a search consultant which is “an industry standard in such searches.”

But the reference check did not turn up the allegations of harassment against Levitt by two former female colleagues at Florida A&M University College of Law. This prompted student senator and law student, Lyle Skinner, to request a special meeting of the UNB senate to address UNB senate search committee processes.

“A review of Senate Search Committee practices should serve to improve any future process for hiring senior administration whether they are deans, vice-presidents, or the president of UNB,” said Skinner in his document to senate.

The special senate meeting will be held on March 23.

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