Many Charleston School of Law faculty members are making a last-ditch effort to stop the sale of the school to InfiLaw System.
If you go
What: Public hearings on the potential sale of Charleston School of Law to InfiLaw System.
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Friday, May 16.
Where: Trident Technical College, Main Campus, Nursing Auditorium, Building 970, 7000 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston.
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, May 19
Where: Midlands Technical College, Airport Campus, Academic Center Auditorium, 1260 Lexington Drive, West Columbia.
Two groups of faculty members last week sent letters to the state Commission on Higher Education, encouraging members not to grant the for-profit InfiLaw a license to operate the law school.
The commission earlier this month was expected to vote on whether to grant InfiLaw a license to operate the private Charleston school. But its Academic Affairs and Licensing Committee deferred the matter, and then scheduled two public hearings to get more input before it makes a final decision.
One of those hearings will be held Friday morning at Trident Technical College. The other will be held Monday morning at Midlands Technical College in West Columbia.
The licensing committee also is expected to meet and vote Monday afternoon on whether to recommend to the full commission that it grant a license to InfiLaw. But a specific time has not been set. Commission staffers already have recommended granting the license.
Many people with connections to the law school are strongly opposed to a sale to InfiLaw. They have said that academic standards at InfiLaw's three other schools are lower than those of the Charleston school.
But InfiLaw spokeswoman Kathy Heldman has said company representatives continue to believe the addition of the Charleston School of Law to the consortium of InfiLaw schools is in the best interest of InfiLaw and Charleston.
Charleston School of Law faculty members Randall Bridwell and Gerald Finkel already have spoken out publicly against the sale, a move they think would harm the Charleston school. Last week, nine other faculty members joined Bridwell and Finkel in sending a letter to the commission, encouraging members not to support a license for InfiLaw.
In the letter, faculty members said under InfiLaw, the school's sense of community would be replaced with "a culture of intimidation and fear." They also said InfiLaw schools had lower standards than those of the Charleston school. "We do not wish to see the Charleston School of Law mirror the admissions practices, attrition rates, transfer rates, or educational programs at the InfiLaw consortium schools," the letter stated.
Faculty members joining Bridwell and Finkel were Constance Anastopoulo, William Janssen, Sheila Scheuerman, Miller Shealy, Stephen Spitz, Nancy Zisk, Allyson Haynes Stuart, Aleatra Williams and William Want.
Charleston lawyer Capers Barr also sent a similar letter to the commission last week on behalf of a group of faculty members who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution. Barr did not specify how many faculty members he represented, but stated that a "super majority" of faculty members were opposed to a sale to InfiLaw.
Bridwell said that Ed Westbrook, one of the law school's five founders, will attend the public hearing Friday to speak out against the license being granted.
The license is one of two remaining hurdles facing InfiLaw in its quest to buy and run the Charleston School of Law. It also must get approval from the American Bar Association.
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.
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