Leaving Tulane (Updated April Edition)

tulane.jpg Newest updates in blue below, based on an email from a Tulane student. There have been a number of recent blog entries about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for educational institutions in New Orleans: law blogs have focused particular attention on Tulane Law. One aspect of the story that seems to be missing is the extent of Tulane’s loss of faculty from this year to next. Based on lots of sources, here is a list of the ten eleven current Tulane law faculty who will not be at the school for all, or part of, next year. (I also hear that one of their incoming hires has decided not to join the faculty, but can not confirm a name.) If there are errors, additions or subtractions, please let me know.

1. Lloyd Bonfield: Visiting at NY Law School

2. Felice Batlan: Moving to Chicago-Kent [Untenured]

3. S. Alan Childress: Visiting at GW

4. Christopher A. Cotropia: Moving to Richmond [Untenured]

5. Marjorie E. Kornhauser: Moving to Arizona State

6. Jonathan Nash: Visiting at Hofstra [Untenured]

7. Rafael Pardo: Moving to Seattle [Untenured]

8. Wendy Scott: Moving to North Carolina Central University

9. David Snyder: Visiting at American

10. Mark Wessman: Visiting at South Carolina

11. Robert Westley: Visiting at DePaul

On first glace, this seems like a long, and (unfortunately) impressive, list to me. What is especially noteworthy is the number of junior folks who are leaving: I assume that Tulane will be doing lots of hiring next year. Anecdotally, this also seems like a large number of visits – although I’m sure most of them are not intended to be the prelude to moves.

Incidentally, I don’t have any data on Loyola (NO)’s faculty, and welcome reader contributions on that front.

Update, 3/27: Based on correspondence, I’ve updated the above list to add one additional visit. I have also received private correspondence that confirms the list as accurate, notwithstanding some comments to the contrary. I also want to add that that I am not celebrating an exodus from Tulane – if that is indeed what this limited data set suggests – but rather trying to provide useful information to the overlapping communities (student, faculty, practitioners, etc.) who read this blog.

Update 4/4: I just received an email forwarded to me by a Tulane student, confirming two additional moves, that purports to be from Dean Ponoroff, who writes:

I’m writing because several of you have contacted me directly or indirectly to express concern about faculty who are leaving Tulane. I have seen the blog that many of you are reading and it is largely, though not entirely accurate. More troubling, it implies a level of “panic” that is neither factual nor warranted.

I respectfully disagree with Dean Ponoroff that my post does imply panic at Tulane Law: in any event, that was not my intent in publishing this information. As I have previously stated, I agree with Brian Leiter:

Faculty recruitment and retention, together with student recruitment and retention, will surely be crucial issues for Tulane over the next year or two. Assuming there are no more flooding fiascos, I would expect Tulane to largely succeed on both fronts in the long run . . . .

That said, early comments to this thread demonstrated some confusion about who was leaving: I hope this post has helped to shed some light on the situation on the ground. I am pleased that the comment thread has begun to turn to a discussion of the situation at Loyola as well. In my view, the more attention paid to the aftereffects of Katrina, the more likely it will be that the legal community will continue to help affected institutions and persons in the coming year(s).

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26 Responses

  1. TLSWatcher says:

    Since you do not provide data showing how many visits/exits Tulane had in any other year, this post is particularly unhelpful. In fact, Tulane’s faculty is relatively large, and the institution has always been aggressive in encouraging its faculty to visit other law schools. As a longtime observer of Tulane Law School, I do not believe next year’s visits/exits are in any way extraordinary.

  2. Dave Hoffman says:

    TLS Watcher: Can you provide any data on previous years exit (tenured and untenured) and visit rates? If so, I’m happy to add it to the post as a service to our readers.

  3. Anon#66 says:

    It’s your post, Dave. Isn’t the burden of proof on you?

  4. Dave Hoffman says:

    What burden of proof? I am not claiming any relative change versus past years at Tulane (although having 3 untenured profs leave in one year would be a big deal at my school, which has 60 faculty members). “On first glance . . .”; “Anecdotally . . .” are terms I intended to connote doubt, not certainty.

    The goal here is to get the facts out. If there are data out there that (a) suggest I’m misreporting what is happening this year; or (b) suggest that I’ve failed to understand the context, I’m really happy to post it.

  5. Kevin says:


    The way I heard it, TLS adopted a number of exceptionally onerous policies for faculty in the wake of Katrina — cancelling leaves and sabbaticals; requiring faculty to teach extra classes; requiring faculty to teach at night and on weekends; etc. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the information, but I recall thinking at the time that the school was going to drive away every professor with the market-power to escape. The exodus you discuss — and TLSWatcher is crazy if he thinks nine professors in a year is “ordinary” — seems to suggest what I heard was correct.

  6. Scott Moss says:

    I checked their website: Tulane lists 55 full-time faculty, though not quite all of those appear to be tenured/tenure-track faculty. So while Tulane does have a big faculty, it’s still striking that almost 20% of its tenure-track faculty are moving or visiting.

  7. Anon says:

    Marjorie Kornhauser also won’t be back as I understand it.

  8. Dianne Newburg says:

    J. William Friedman is apparently staying.

  9. anonymous coward says:

    night classes? I go to Tulane there are no night classes. Nobody is teaching at night. I know that Bonfield visited NYLS LAST semester and is now back at Tulane. I saw Snyder yesterday, if he is visiting somewhere next semester thats news to me, but he is at Tulane now. I also know Nash, he is teaching at Tulane this semester, I will have to ask him if he is visiting somewhere else next, but I highly doubt that all these people would move back to NOLA only to move away 3 months later.

  10. bob says:

    fall 2006 courses are posted as are spring 07 tentative listings. I will probably just check the names mentioned against fall, not spring:

    Snyder, no courses.

    Pardo, no courses.

    Cotropia, no courses.

    Kornhauser, no courses.

    Friedman, teaching.

    Nash, listed in Spring but not Fall.

    Batlan, in fall but not spring.

    Westley, teaching fall, not listed spring.

    Wessman, teaching fall, not listed spring.

    Bonfield, teaching.

    Childress, not listed.

    I imagine the Spring course list means less when someone is absent. It’s tentative and doesn’t have first year courses. Also, I guess Fall listings might just be a wishlist too. I don’t know.

  11. Anon says:

    There are several classes taught in the evening at TLS, though not a “night school.” There are more evening classes this year because of the time and room constraints that come with three semesters running simultaneously (Regular Upperclass Spring, Regular 1L Spring, and Condensed 1L Spring 1). Because of the same time and room constraints, some professors, especially those teaching the 1L core classes, are required to hold their classes on Saturdays. As a student, I would hate to have regular Saturday classes. I can’t imagine why a professor would want to either…

  12. JF says:

    according to tulane’s registration packet for next year, Professors Childress, Kornhauser, Nash and Snyder are tentatively scheduled for sabbatical or leave in the fall 2006 semester. Professors Bonfield, Childress, Force, Hoeffel, Kornhauser, Snyder and Wessman in the spring 2007


    ancillary to having fewer professors, it also means we have less classes. in addition, it has already been said that most of the above list of professors are highly regarded by the students. this now means that the courses they used to teach will be taught by professors that are not as good or as well liked by the students (example: all IP classes). its just a shame that the adminstration fought so adamantly to force students to return but are freely allowing professors to leave the law school.

  13. anon lawprof says:


    The comment in your post that “its [sic] just a shame that the administration fought so adamantly to force students to return but are [sic] freely allowing professors to leave the law school” strikes me as an unfortunate one, not because of its grammatical errors, but rather because it comes across as unsubstantiated and uninformed. First, you fail to give examples of measures the administration took to keep students at Tulane against their will. Second, a visit does not mean a professor will permanently leave the law school. Moreover, at the end of the day, a professor is always free to resign and leave his or her position at a school. Finally, it’s my understanding from a member of the hiring committee at my school that Tulane’s dean requested of deans at other law schools that they not consider Tulane faculty during this current academic year for lateral appointments. This is a far cry from “freely allowing professors to leave the law school.” I’m sure that the Tulane administration is doing all that it can to preserve the institution (as is its duty to do so).

  14. Ezra Rosser says:

    As far as Loyola New Orleans goes, my understanding (and I am only a fellow at Loyola, not a full member of the faculty), is that few professors are leaving next year. Some professors continue to commute or even fly in to teach from out of New Orleans because they lost their houses to the hurricane, but there does not seem to be an exodus of people. As a mere observer, I credit this largely to the excellent work of the Dean in arranging for a fall term at the Univ. of Houston and in being very clear that no one would lose their job (including administrative staff).

  15. anonymous tulane 3L says:

    To “anonlawprof” – as far as forcing Tulane students to return, trust me it was done. Tulane would not release transcripts for any students except those who could prove “compelling circumstnace” (which effectively left all but 1L’s with no option but to return or start their law school careers completely over). After talking to the FEW students who were able to satisfy this ridiculously high “compelling circumstances” test, the only thing found sufficient by the administration was a medical reason confirmed by a doctor for not returning. Circumstances such as already have relocated to the city where I have a job after graduation (I’m a 3L) as well as having a spouse who found a job there quickly after the hurricane and cannot be expected to give up the job to return to New Orleans for just one last semester, were found lacking. This leaves me, and other married 3L’s as well, in the situation of having to pay rent in two places – where the spouse is and in New Orleans. This extreme financial difficulty was similarly dismissed as insufficient by the administration.

  16. anonymous TLS 3L says:

    The Tulane Law community received an email from Dean Ponoroff yesterday (4/4/2006).

    In it he confirmed that professors Batlan, Cotropia, Kornhauser, Pardo, and Scott will be leaving.

    Further, professors Bonfield, Childress, Snyder, Wessman, and Westley will be on sabbatical for at least one semester next year.

    One thing that annoyed me was Dean Ponoroff’s careless diction (or was it artful dodgery?). His letter stated that “with a faculty of nearly 50, this does not leave us ‘decimated’ by any means.” I counted 58 “faculty” listed on the intranet page. If “decimate” still means “to reduce by one tenth,” TLS is skating pretty close to that. It would be more accurate to say: if we lose one more faculty member, we’re decimated. On the other hand, if you accept Dean Ponoroff’s estimate of “nearly 50” faculty members, the departures will leave TLS more than decimated.

  17. Loyola and TLS grad says:

    I received an undergrad degree from Loyola Univ. NOLA and a law degree from TLS.

    It is my observation that many professors at Loyola are actually from NOLA and the surrounding region — hence, the school’s stellar reputation REGIONALLY.

    That being said, Tulane, and its law school, has always enjoyed a more national reputation. As such, the faculty in the law school were NOT FROM LOUISIANA; and while the seemingly large number of “junior” members may be a bit disconcerting, the reality is that in Post-K NOLA, those with loose or tenuous ties leave. Even those natives with young families leave — this is no place for children. I cannot underestimate this point — NOLA IS NOT A PLACE FOR YOUNG FAMILIES RIGHT NOW.

    In a way, what’s happened is Tulane’s fault — for not stocking at least the civil law faculty (for those that don’t know, approximately 25-35% of EACH graduating class takes the Louisiana bar), with folks from Louisiana instead of the horrid numbers of adjuncts, “practioners” who purport to teach the real Lousiana law.

    While I concede Tulane should bring in lots of folks from all over the world, with spectacular pedigrees to teach, the school does have the option of hosting a larger number of Lousiana natives on its faculty, and despite the large percentage of folks who take the Louisiana bar, the school chooses not to.

    I am a Louisiana attorney. I went to Tulane. The school will survive; it just may be a while before it’s back to normal. Personally, if I were Pardo or Childress or Kornhauser or [insert name], I’d leave too.

  18. Loyola and TLS grad says:

    Also, while TLS only has 56 professors listed as faculty on its website, as an earlier poster mentioned, I would point out that the school has a LARGE number of adjuncts and that many, many courses are taught in the late afternoon, early evening time period by these practicioners; so, Dean Ponoroff is correct in his assertion that the five confirmed folks who are leaving does not “decimate” the faculty. (However, I agree that Ponoroff’s use of the word “decmiate” is a bit, well, stupid, on his part — why introduce such negative language into the letter designed to “spin” the situation in a positive light?)

    Lastly, here is Ponoroff’s letter in full:

    From: Larry Ponoroff On Behalf Of DeanTalk

    Sent: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 2:09 PM

    To: 1st year law students; 2nd year law students; 3rd year law students

    Subject: Rumor and fact

    Good afternoon. I’m writing because several of you have contacted me directly or indirectly to express concern about faculty who are leaving Tulane. I have seen the blog that many of you are reading and it is largely, though not entirely accurate. More troubling, it implies a level of “panic” that is neither factual nor warranted. So here are the facts. The following members of the faculty have advised me that they will be resigning at the end of the current semester:

    Professor Batlan

    Professor Cotropia

    Professor Kornhauser (currently on leave)

    Professor Pardo

    Dean Scott

    Of course, it is true that we lose and add faculty every year. Losing five in a single year, however, is more than usual and doubtless related to the aftermath of Katrina. I am very sad to see each of these individuals move on, but with a faculty of nearly 50, this does not leave us “decimated” by any means. In other words, students will be given the same number of course/section choices as they have in the past, and all of our clinics and our Trial Ad program will be at full capacity. Obviously, we will also be in the “market” next year with a view to making several new faculty appointments, including filling a new chair in business law that was endowed this past fall. We fully intend to apply the same high standards in that process that we always have, looking for the most talented teachers and scholars.

    In addition, there are several faculty members who have been granted permission next year to visit away for a semester or the year. These include:

    Professor Bonfield (spring)

    Professor Childress (year)

    Professor Snyder (year)

    Professor Wessman (spring)

    Professor Westley (spring)

    Once again, we have faculty visiting away every year, but this is somewhat more than normal; in part because I cancelled all leaves for this spring to ensure that we could cover all the courses in our bulked-up semester. I expect these faculty members to return after their visits and we are covering any holes in the curriculum with three visitors: Eric Dannanmeier, who is currently completing his LL.M at Columbia and some of you will recall as the former director of our Envt’l Policy Institute, will be here for the year. Jeff Lipshaw, a former partner at the Dykema Gossett firm in Detroit with teaching experience at Wake Forest and Indiana-Indianapolis, will also be here for the year. Finally, Cree Johnson, a tenured member of the Moritz School of Law at Ohio State, will be with us in the spring semester. While the number of visitors may seem small in relation to the number of faculty who are leaving or are away visiting, this is about par for the course since ordinarily we have six or seven faculty out on leaves and sabbaticals each year without the need for any visitors. Indeed, each request to visit away was only granted after a determination was made that it would not adversely affect the curriculum or the school.

    I also expect that we will have our full array of co-curricular offerings next year, including our endowed lectures and institutes. Moreover, the Law Review is currently planning a one-day Katrina symposium with leading academics from around the country and to which all of our students will be invited to attend. In short, without in any way understating the seriousness with which we regard losing good faculty, the first priority remains our instructional program which will not be compromised in any significant way.

    I hope this has clarified the situation for those of you who have inquired, and I hope it has also served to quell any concern about the extent of our curriculum next year and the longer-term future. However, you may wish to speak to some of the faculty who are leaving directly. Surely, like every other institution in the city, we are going through a period of transition. However, I continue to believe that this is also an opportunity to build a stronger, healthier, and more focused institution in the long-run, without the need to undercut standards or quality as we move in that direction. I hope you will each play a proactive role in that process. Thank you.

    Lawrence Ponoroff

    Dean and Mitchell Franklin Professor of Private Commercial Law

    Tulane University Law School

    (504) 865-5937

  19. Anony TLS student says:

    How ironic. This site actually seems to spark the administration to share information with students! We can gripe and moan all day in the halls but do not ever get any real answers until our “deep secrets” are revealed publicly through the world wide web. (Does this unfortunately remind anyone of last semester??) If nothing else, obviously TLS (and more fairly, Tulane University) has some major communication problems–and no, I don’t mean our spotty wireless internet.

    I have a question regarding yesterday’s e-mail and the “complete” listing of departing professors.

    If you look at the proposed list of classes for Spring 2007, several [tenured] professors are altogether missing. I would like to know why the following professors are not listed as teaching any courses in the spring:

    Professor Barron (both semesters),

    Professor Griffin, and

    Professor Yiannopoulos.

    I certainly am not trying to add to the communication problems, but seeing as the adminstration took it upon themselves to post here, I figured I might as well ask my question. THNX

  20. Anon TLS 1L says:

    As a 1L, I don’t need “anon lawprof” to tell me that my dean wasn’t pulling all the stops to prevent my class from visiting at other universities. Just ask deans around the country. Actually, just ask me, I was calling around to law schools only to have them inform me that my dean had asked them not to take me. Naturally, I learned about this not via direct, candid communication from TLS, but rather through direct, candid communication from other deans. Unfortunately, only a few universities decided to ignore our dean’s request and accept 1Ls. By asking other schools not to accept us at the same time that it was uncertain we would be able to return and complete our 1L year, our dean gambled our ability to graduate in 2008. It was similar to what happened with our faculty. Warning to all deans: ignoring the interests of students/faculty can lead to a high attrition rate.

  21. Loyola and TLS grad says:

    Yippi announced a few years ago that he would be “retiring” from full-time teaching in order to pursue the pleasures of life found in Greece. At that time, he told our class that he would consider teaching a few classes here and there, but never more than two, but possibly none at all some semesters, but that he would teach summer school as long as they would let him (go figure!)

    I can’t speak for the other two, except to say that it was rumored Griffin was job hunting years ago, long pre-K. Maybe he’s got a gig elsewhere. He does have aspirations of being the head honcho.

  22. Zinc says:

    Okay, as someone accepted to Tulane and to Emory, but very much wanting to go to Tulane (long before the hurricane) is it madness to go to Tulane in 2006-2007?

  23. Dave Hoffman says:


    I’m don’t think this blog, and especially this post, is the place for that particular discussion. Sorry, but I will exercise veto power over further comments on the topic of where to go to law school.

    Also, I think it worth mentioning that the administration at Tulane did not post a comment here (others did, using an email that was circulated by the Dean). Thus, Anony TLS Student (4/5: 4:52 p.m.), we’ll have to make do with whatever information other students can provide.

  24. tls'er says:

    to answer Anony TLS student’s question about Griffen and Barron: Griffin has just taken his prior position of Vice Dean of Academic Services (taking over from Prof Scott, who is leaving because her husband was transfered, who took over for him about 1 1/2 years ago), so he isn’t going anywhere (at least for the time being). As for Barron, he was tapped to be interim Technology officer for the University while they look for a permanent replacement. That is why they are not currently listed to teach. They will be at Tulane, but in different capacities.

  25. Kristina says:

    What is the course offerings for spring 2006? my computer won’t load right. i really just need an answer to one question – is there a federal civil procedure II class being offered? thank you!

  26. Angela says:

    I don’t think Professor Childress’ sabbatical is a result of Hurricane Katrina. His wife has lived in D.C. for almost two years now. I think he’s been trying to make a move to a university there for some time.