2, Number 3, May 2002
Academic Administrator and the Law:
What Every Dean and Department Chair Needs to Know
Douglas J & Palm, Richard L. (1999). ASHE-ERIC Higher
Education Report 26(5). Washington D.C.: The George
Washington University, Graduate School of Education
and Human Development.
by Samantha Spitzer
Management in Higher Education Report readers may
be interested in this ASHE-ERIC Higher Education
Report which focuses on law. While the goal of Campus-ADR.org
and the Conflict Management in Higher Education
Report is to provide information about alternative
forms of dispute resolution, we recognize that our
readers are also faced with problems that require
use of more traditional resolution processes. For
this reason, this edition's book review highlights
The Academic Administrator and the Law.
and Palm wrote The Academic Administrator and
the Law to address legal issues affecting institutions
of higher education. More specifically, the report
focuses on legal situations that involve deans and
department chairs. The purpose in exploring these
issues is threefold: to provide general information
needed to recognize legal issues and resources available
to resolve the issues, to encourage academic administrators
to be active in resolving legal issues and to encourage
academic administrators to implement preventative
law strategies so that legal action can be avoided.
an executive summary, a forward by Adrianna J. Kezar,
acknowledgement page and an introduction, The
Academic Administrator and the Law is divided
into four chapters. The chapters include The
Law, the Courts, and Counsel, The Employment
Relationship with Faculty and Staff, Students
in the Academic Setting and Regulation
and Oversight in the School and the Department.
In the above sections, Toma and Palm help answer
questions such as
legal issues might arise for Deans and Chairs?
the legal community defer to academic decision
are the roles of institutional counsel and academic
Deans and Chairs?
issues to academic administrators face daily?
answer to the first question, Toma and Palm explain
that a variety of legal issues arise in university
and college settings. According to the authors,
Common issues include contract matters, due process
and equal protection, free expression and immigration
and copyright regulation. The U.S. Constitution,
state constitutions, state and federal legislation,
institutional rules and institutional custom govern
In response to the second and third questions, Toma
and Palm indicate that traditional legislative and
judicial processes remain pronounced in higher education.
Due to the variety of legal issues and methods of
resolving them, academic administrators must be
familiar with the law, the roles of counsel and
the procedural context in which lawyers work. The
role of deans and department chairs is to work with
attorneys, both those of the institution and those
hired in other capacities.
In regards to the final question, the most common
issues faced by administrators are those regarding
employment. In the words of Toma and Palm
essence of the relationship between employers and
employees is the employment contract...Closely related
to employment contracts are decisions about hiring
and promotion, each of which raises issues of equal
protection and due process...Moreover, these same
issues comonly arise in matter os reappointment,
tenure, promotion, and the dismissla and retirement
of tenured faculty and staff. Affirmative action
frequently plays a role in the employment relationship.
Adrianna J. Kezar, Series Editor and Director of
the ERIC Clearinghouse for Higher Education, explains
issues will only become more prevalent and more
complex. Toma and Palm's report will help administrators,
especially academic leaders, to become more aware
of the ways that a legal perspective can enhance
their effectiveness and their accountability as
agents of the institution. Astute academic leaders
will value the synthesis and analysis of important
legal issues contained in The Academic Administrator
and the Law.
project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report
(Attn: Bill Warters)
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
Department of Communication
585 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48201.
send comments, bug reports, etc. to the Editor.
© 2000-2005 William C. Warters & WSU,
All rights reserved.