Text of a letter from FSU president Sandy D'Alemberte to professor William McHugh.

  1. June 24, 1997

  2. Hand Delivered

  3. This letter is being hand delivered to you at the conclusion of our meeting in my office this date. The purpose of this letter is to memorialize for your benefit and that of the University the salient points I made during our meeting and to signal the conclusion of the investigation of the complaint.

  4. As I emphasized in our discussion today, having previously served as Dean of the College of Law, I have witnessed first hand your commitment to the academic integrity of the law school and your abiding concern that the law school and its faculty do their very best to prepare students not simply to pass the bar exam but to practice law competently. Thus, I have great respect for you and consider you to be a valuable asset to the College of Law and, more importantly, to its students. Indeed, the law school and its students are very well served when the entire faculty are as committed to training students in the law as you are. I trust that our meeting today will not diminish but only serve to enhance your commitment to the law school and those that it serves.

  5. In Our meeting today and this letter are for the express purpose of emphasizing to you the need to avoid certain classroom and administrative behavior that reflects negatively not only on you personality but on the law school and the University. Your periodic use of profanity and occasional off color remarks (i.e. references to anatomical parts of the body) in the course of classroom dialogue with students is unacceptable and is clearly counter-productive to your mission as an educator. Your behavior can be, and at times is, construed by students and staff as being hostile, offensive and insensitive. Needless to say, this behavior is unnecessary for effective instruction and has the potential to diminish your effectiveness with students and your colleagues. Furthermore, this insensitive behavior only creates the potential for liability for yourself and the University. Our society, and consequently the university, has developed a heightened sensitivity to certain language. We do not need to accept the extreme views of political correctness, but we ought to understand the negative impact of insensitive remarks on our teaching.

    Comment: Paragraphs 4 and 5 above, written by a former law school dean and ABA president, demonstrate the depth of our legal system's problems. In paragraph 4. Professor McHugh is praised as a very fine teacher; thus we are assured, from the writer's point of view, that McHugh's students will practice law competently. And, giving the writer the benefit of the doubt, lets assume that his students do learn their law well from the purely technical standpoint.

    Comment: However, as pointed out in the previous article McHugh employs or flouts hypocrisy, intimidation, sexual harassment, sleaze, and the degenerate good old boy system. I would think in the mind of most people, McHugh is such a total moral degenerate that he couldn't possibly be a good teacher, particularly of law, a subject which most people view should have moral standards. (If for instance, he were teaching mechanical engineering, the negative impact on society would be far less, even if his students liked his style of teaching.)

    Comment: I think its fair to say that this professor would not have lasted so long in virtually any other major university discipline. I for one, don't remember hearing of any college professor that even cames close to him. And the reason is clear in this letter. Lawyers separate law from morality, and this law school at least is turning out a product that is, over all, morally degenerate. On the other hand, law as a science could never become so out of line and degenerate; for it would have to meet our society's psychological, sociological and economic needs and standards, as well as those that would be developed specifically for law through further inquiry.

  6. My comments should not be construed as a criticism of, or a warning against using, the Socratic method of instruction. The Socratic method is traditional and can be an effective mode of classic teaching, especially in the law school environment. Furthermore, my comments have not been made for the purpose of discouraging you from appropriately attempting to remedy students' failure to attend class or to come to class prepared.

  7. I feel compelled to remind you that there have been prior discussions between the University administration and you regarding this conduct. The need for today's meeting underscores the university commitment to high standards of conduct. As President of the University, and as a colleague and a friend, I would encourage you to take the matters we discussed today to heart.

  8. Your continuation of this conduct will ultimately force the University to address it in a different and more formal manner. Your sensitivity to these matters will only serve to enhance your standing and reputation, and will inure to the benefit of the institution.

  9. I am confident that our meeting today will have positive results.

  10. Sincerely,

  11. Talbot D'Alemberte
  12. President
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This is a page in the section entitled Why Can't Law Schools Teach Ethics? --FSU in the Web site entitled Legal Reform through Transforming the Discipline of Law into a Science .