Levin College of Law dean Robert “Bob” Jerry addressed students’ questions and rumors about the failed dean search at an informal discussion Tuesday.
At the meeting, Jamal Sowell, special assistant to UF President Bernie Machen, said he would try to set up a meeting between Machen and students.
“The president is not against meeting with students to hear their concerns,” he said. “All their concerns are very valid.”
Machen will work on the new law dean search before he leaves office in December 2014.
Matthew Christ, a 24-year-old second-year UF law student who attended the discussion, said he, like most students, wants to meet with Machen.
“The big worry, if he is involved,” he said, “is the extent of his involvement.”
UF law professor and proposed interim dean George Dawson and senior associate dean for academic affairs Alyson Flournoy also took part in the discussion.
Dawson said he will do his best to address the issue of diversity in the search during his time as dean.
“One of the things I will be doing as quickly as possible is to sit down and talk with a variety of student groups,” he said.
An issue brought up by a student was the role of the Sunshine Law in the search process. For the dean search, the Sunshine Law required that applicants’ names be made public. This limits the number of candidates seeking to apply because their current employers might find out.
Dawson said the Sunshine Law is not the sole reason the search ended the way it did.
“I think it’s very hard to say the extent to which it affects the candidate pool,” he said.
Three finalists were selected out of the pool of 24 candidates.
UF had used a Los Angeles law firm to search for the candidates, which cost $90,000.
Paul O’Quinn, a 28-year-old second-year UF law student, said his questions were answered at the meeting, but he still hopes to meet with Machen.
“I’m curious as to the specifics or particular vision Machen had that was not verbalized by the candidates, and until then I’m withholding judgement,” he said.
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 3/26/2014 under the headline "UF law school dean discusses failed search with students"]