SLU Law Dean Annette Clark Resigns Citing Numerous Disputes with President Fr. Biondi

As first reported by nextSTL, Dean Annette Clark has announced her resignation of the deanship at the Saint Louis University School of Law. Her appointment was announced in April of 2011 and she assumed the deanship July 1, 2011. In Janurary, after years of seeking a renovated home on the school's main Frost Campus, SLU announced that the law school would move to a new building in downtown St. Louis. This move is one issue cited cited by Clark for her resignation. "You acquired the building downtown and deemed it to be the new law school building without adequate investigation of its suitability and without any notice or consultation with the law school leadership," Clark wrote to SLU President Fr. Lawrence Biondi and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Manoj Patankar in her letter of resignation acquired by nextSTL and dated today.

In a letter to faculty and staff, Clark elaborates on the move, "I was kept completely in the dark regarding the acquisition of the building downtown and its designation as the new law school building, learning the news only three days before the announcement was made public." Clearly the move wasn't the only issue, as the resigniation letter and message to faculty and staff make clear. *update: Fr. Biondi has now released a letter that states, in part, that he had planned to terminate Dean Clark at a "regularly scheduled meeting" today. The meeting did not take place and Clark submitted her resignation. In his "special message", Biondi says, "Her emails…demonstrate a lack of a clear and comprehensive understanding of the duties and obligations, autonomy and authority, of a modern-day dean at a large and complex university." His letter is below. SLU Law Dean Annette E. Clark Resignation Letter 8-8-12

Resignation Announcement Faculty Staff 8-8-12-1

Special Message From SLU President Father Lawrence Biondi Regarding Dean Annette Clark 8-8-12

From April 2011 announcement of Dean Clark's hiring:

April 28, 2011

Annette Clark Selected as Dean of School of Law
Annette Clark, M.D., J.D.
Following a national search, Annette Clark, M.D., J.D., has been selected as the new dean for Saint Louis University School of Law, effective July 1, 2011. Clark brings an impressive list of credentials to the position and will help guide the law school through the changing landscape of legal education.
"Professor Clark truly understands the challenges and opportunities facing law schools today and has a clear vision for how our School of Law will thrive and grow well into the future," said Saint Louis University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. "Having taught at a Jesuit law school, she also knows the critical role our mission plays in educating our students and serving our community."
Clark will join Saint Louis University School of Law from the Seattle University School of Law, where she's served on the faculty since 1989. Clark also served as the school's interim
dean from 2009-2010, after more than 10 years as associate dean and then vice dean, overseeing the academic program, including the curriculum and centers and institutes, as well as the faculty. Clark has an M.D. with honors from the University of Washington School of Medicine and her J.D. summa cum laude from Seattle University School of Law.
"The Saint Louis University School of Law's reputation among practicing attorneys, judges and other law schools is very strong. And with a nationally ranked health law program, a new center for legal advocacy, great breadth of faculty expertise, a vibrant student body and terrific alumni support, its future is very bright," said Clark. "Serving as the law school's dean is a great honor and privilege, and I look forward to getting started and meeting all of the wonderful students and alumni I've heard so much about."
Of her many awards, Clark was named the 2008-09 James B. McGoldrick, S.J., Fellow, which is awarded to the Seattle University faculty member or administrator who best exemplifies commitment to students and to the values of a Jesuit education. She teaches, writes and consults in the areas of medical liability and bioethics and is a frequent national and local lecturer on bioethics-related topics.
Her scholarship operates at the interface of health care, law, and health policy, with a particular emphasis on end-of-life issues. She has published articles in the New York University Law Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, and the Tulane Law Review, among others.
Today's announcement represents the culmination of an intensive, nearly year-long search process led by the law school's Dean Search Committee to identify the needs of the law
school and how the experience and characteristics of prospective dean candidates could benefit the next phase of the School of Law.
After a select group of candidates were invited for on-campus interviews, the committee held small- and large-group meetings with students, faculty and staff to meet the candidates. These groups later provided feedback to the committee that was used to develop a recommendation on finalists to the University administration, which formally appoints the new dean. For more information on the committee, visit
"The caliber of all of the candidates with whom we met was extremely high, and it was a great honor to represent our colleagues and students during this important chapter of the school's history," said Michael Korybut, chair of the Dean Search Committee. "We believe Professor Clark will provide dedicated leadership while carving a new path for the future of legal education at Saint Louis University."
Professor Emerita Sandra H. Johnson will continue to serve as interim dean through June 30, 2011. Johnson was appointed interim dean following Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law Jeffrey E. Lewis' announcement last spring that he would return to full-time teaching at Saint Louis University School of Law after 11 years as dean.
"I would like to thank Sandy for her outstanding leadership during the past year," Biondi said. "Her willingness to serve as interim dean not only demonstrates her dedication to the law school, but also her deep commitment to our entire University community."

  • SLUgrad

    Note to the next Law School Dean:
    At SLU – Fr. Biondi = God
    Do not get on Fr. Biondi’s bad side.
    There is no predictablity as to how one might get on his bad side, he might just wake up one morning no longer liking you.
    Its his way or the highway.
    He has a discretionary fund to spend when and as he wishes (Usually on bad art for his museum, but never, ever say that aloud TO anyone).
    That million he took from the law school, probably already spent but don’t ask about it – or any other money he subtracts from your budget.
    He makes promises he doesn’t keep.
    Don’t make him mad – did I already say that?
    Don’t ever think you have any authority that he can’t take away in a second.
    Don’t depend on the board of trustees for any help. They’re only there because Fr. Biondi likes them and the only way to keep him liking you is to never, ever disagree with him or ask about his discretionary fund.
    Don’t make him mad and you might last a few years.

    • SLUgrad

      Oh yeah ~ forgot to mention. He’ll read all your emails and most likely listen in on all your phone calls. Maybe bug your office too. He’s a tad paranoid. Goes with his grandiose opinion of himself.

    • tony

      sounds like SLU has a godfather

  • Outsider

    I would say the matter is terrible. Litigation wouldn’t surprise me. I wish all current students and alumni the best luck in dealing with whatever may lay ahead. But I remain curous: does anyone have a link to the article Ms. Clark wrote appeared in the Missouri Lawyers Weekly, and her “truthful and accurate emails [she] sent to the faculty and the article that appeared in the Missouri Lawyers Weekly”?

  • LawGrad90s

    Biondi has always been called “Beyond Me” because his decisions are totally beyond anyone’s comprehension.

    There goes the value of my SLU law degree … lower into the tanks. Thanks, BeyondMe.

  • Anon

    As a former employee of the SLU Law School, I can honestly say that Annette Clark was a fantastic Dean. Despite the drama of forcing the school to move downtown, she did her best to involve the entirety of the Law School, Faculty, Staff, and Students, into the discussion. This is a huge loss, and embarrassment for a school that has been struggling to increase its rating and attract young and talented students. I feel very sorry for those that are giving the University six figures to attend a school that the President seems to have little to no regard for.

  • Mike Cordileone

    Very simple. Biondi wants the building downtown and needs some money. He reaches over the river and grabs Mr. Thomas Keef a trial lawyer worth millions. Biondi pressures Clark to leave. Keef is appointed as Dean. Typical Italian Job. End of story. It was never about Clark in the first place. How do you think Tony Giordano made his millions without ever getting caught. If you’re a true St. Louisan you will know who Tony G was. If you don’t, you don’t know anything about the underground mafia that still runs this place.

    • Christina

      hahaha so true Mike!

  • 2L

    I met Annette Clark and she was awesome. This looks HORRIBLE for SLU as a University and especially as a Law School. I guess I will be working extra hard to rank up and transfer…The morale for SLU employees is low, and I have never heard one good thing said about Father Biondi and his “economical practices”. I think we all need to write to the Board or to SOMEONE and get him out of there and anyone else who chose to go with his unethical decisions and/or cover it up!

  • SLUAlum

    EVERYONE should write to the Board of Trustees!

  • Aleks

    As an undergrad at SLU, it is my strong belief that Biondi’s time has come and he needs to go. Can’t say i’m surprised by any of this honestly.

  • JPCosgrove

    As a SLU Law student, this makes me nervous about the future of my school and its reputation. However, I agree with Dean Clark that it’s time for Biondi to go, and given his track record on urban affairs I don’t think anybody on this board would disagree.

    I’d also like to congratulate NextSTL for picking up this story a full 2.5 hours before the Post Dispatch. Kudos.

  • guest

    Oh, great. Thanks a lot! Thanks for unleashing the vaults of hell on downtown St. Louis! Soon, Tucker Blvd will be flowing with hot lava and DuBourg Hall will be strewn into pieces on the ground. I take it the lady didn’t want to move downtown?

    • JPCosgrove

      Her main problem is with Biondi using the law school as an ATM. I don’t think she had a problem with moving downtown besides that she and the faculty should have been consulted beforehand.

      • abriemickey

        “The lady” has both a JD and an MD, by the way.

        • abriemickey

          The accusations of disrespect are painfully accurate, in both bold and subtle actions. See how Fr. Biondi refuses to call her “Dr.” in his response (instead using “Prof.”), yet he consistently refers to Manoj–who goes by his first name habitually–as “Dr. Patankar”? Yet Manoj has a doctorate in engineering vs. a medical doctorate (i.e., the only discipline where the title of “Doctor” is used virtually routinely), and is a Fr. Biondi yes-man. You don’t go from un-tenured professor to VP AA in such a short time without playing Father’s game. Annette is, on the contrary and in my personal experience, quite competent and ethical by comparison. I applaud her. Also, I don’t think it was any coincidence that the downtown school was announced amidst protests of the planned demolition of the Pevely complex to make way for a Med School development. Just sayin’.

          • Christina

            Your whole “Dr.” and “Prof.” argument is way off. They are interchangeable at any university. I am a master student and I work at a university where it is actually the custom to say Prof. So-and-so even to the Dean of a Faculty or the President of the university. It is not disrespectful and you’re reading into that too much. However, you are right in saying that Patankar is a yes-man and that Clark is quite competent, and really she is more than competent. In reality Biondi didn’t have anything against her qualities or even personally. It was never ever about her in the first place! This story is not about her! Anyone’s head would have rolled if they were in that position. It’s actually quite simple and people aren’t getting it! It was all about Keef’s money, he’s a world-class trial lawyer (hint: trial lawyer = millions) and guess what, looks who’s the new Dean now? Keef! Remember that Biondi gets what he wants and no one is going to stop him. Because he’s Biondi. Period.

          • ghijklm

            Patankar’s doctorate isn’t in engineering. He’s got a PhD in Education – from an online program. He’s not a rocket scientist in more ways than one.

      • Blank

        As her resignation letter states, there was no consultation beforehand. Biondi received the building as a gift, decided he wanted the law school to go there, and told them to do it. When it first went public earlier this year, it was supposed to happen by this month simply because that’s what Biondi wanted.

  • Daniel Layton

    I hope the Board of Trustees will see this, take it seriously, and get rid of him ASAP.

    • Lee

      You will never get rid of Biondi. He is the Board of Trustees. He is the godfather.

    • Tony

      You will never get rid of Biondi. He is the Board of Trustees. He is the godfather.

  • Jacob

    As a SLU undergrad and Law School alum, I have been generally supportive of Biondi. I think he has done a lot of great things for the school. I have defended him to a lot of people, thinking that the good he has done has outweighed the bad decisions he has made.

    I still think he has elevated the school from what it was when he became the president, but after reading Dean Clark’s letter, I believe his time should come to an end.

    He has been President too long, is out of ideas, and as evidenced from the letter, is actually hurting the University now. He seems to be treating the University as his own fiefdom, where he can do whatever he wants, which is very unfortunate.

    He needs to step down or be removed now. I plan on writing to the Board of Trustees letting them know my displeasure with how they have let things get out of control and that things need to change if they expect me to donate any more to the University, and I encourage all alumni to the same.

  • Is this really legitimate? How was this letter made public????