This section covers legal reform issues relating to University of Florida President John Lombardi's resignation.

  1. From everything I can find, the University of Florida appears to have moved forward in an exceptional manner under the guidance of Dr. Lombardi.

  2. For instance, as reported in the Alligator, paragraphs 25-28:

    1. In 1990, UF had 96 National Merit Scholars and an average GPA of 3.45 among entering students. This year, 192 UF freshmen received the honor and the average student had a 3.90 GPA in high school.

    2. While the incoming classes have improved, the university has grown from 33,282 students in 1990 to 42,336 today.

    3. Sponsored research awards have doubled in the past 10 years, from $147 million to $296 million.

    4. UF's $497 million endowment today is about five times what it was in 1990 and the total budget has increased from $800 million to more than $1.5 billion.

  3. Without more information on the total budget figures, one doesn't know how to assess such a large increase. However, the other figures are no less than stunning by any measure. Also or course one doesn't know to what degree they are due to the actions of a single person such as the president or to the collective actions of others.

  4. A further assessment can be found in the Gainesville Sun.

  5. With such a good qualitative assessment added to the previous figures, it appears to me that President Lombardi can't be doing too much wrong and almost certainly is doing a great deal that is right.

  6. What then is the problem?

  7. Looking through the newspaper articles about him, there appear to be two more recent issues that have precipitated his resignation; (1), a tiff with two law school deans and (2), salary raises to his top people. A third issue that surfaced the day after his resignation is about some alleged impropriety as to the costs of his daughter's wedding two years ago. Claims are being made that this most recent issue had nothing to do with the resignation but such claims were made about the previous two issues also. In any event, all of these issues have very substantial legal reform components.

  8. As for the law school deans, they were engaged to assess the University of Florida Law School, giving it a very good rating.

  9. And, in a letter written subsequent to a meeting with President Lombardi and others while at UF, they claimed that "With an anger seemingly barely controlled, and contempt unconcealed, the president leaned forward and launched into a stream of vituperation charging the Consultants were utterly misinformed, had made charges without any basis-- etc., etc." Indeed you would think these law school deans were accusing President Lombardi of behaving like a lawyer.

  10. They claimed further he "acted with gross discourtesy and as an immature bully" saying "It is unknown to us whether President Lombardi has been licensed to abuse visitors to the University of Florida campus, or is simply unable to control himself."

  11. And, "Whatever the explanation, future Consultants should be given notice that the President may vent his penchant for abusive behavior upon them. They should be told that they may have their intelligence, ethics, and good faith questioned to their faces and expect to have their professional reputations impugned behind their backs."

  12. To me, just on the face of it, this letter appears written more for the purpose of smearing and discrediting someone than conveying anything meaningful-- stock in trade for lawyers, and something many of my Web site readers know only too well. It should be noted of course that we don't have the entire letter and thus don't know everything in it or whether there are issues not reported in the media that might place the letter in a different light.

  13. However, taken at face value for what has been reported in the press, it poses many issues:

  14. First, one is lost to see how law school deans, of all people, are going to get upset by a little straight talk (or whatever you wish to call it) by the UF President. Are these deans culturally deprived mentally retarded individuals totally incapable of defending themselves from this alleged verbal onslaught? Indeed, they, of all people, are masters of debate and the adversarial process and psychology. Law schools teach their students to do it and lawyers do it all the time just for effect. So why didn't they just get their two bits in then just dress him down and forget about it? Indeed, they even had a two to one advantage over him.

  15. Secondly, there are citizens all over this state who have received much worse than a little straight talk from lawyers, with no recourse whatsoever. Nobody is going to pay any attention to any letters they write regarding broken homes and broken lives caused by lawyers let alone letters that merely complain that their alleged dignity may have been ruffled a little; which appears to be all that these deans are complaining about. So why should anyone pay any attention to their letter? Because they are lawyers? Law school deans? Clearly these deans consider themselves far above anyone else.

  16. Third, it is also disconcerting to think the Regents themselves would entertain such a frivolous issue. Do they review every letter from anyone complaining about any of the state's university presidents? Or do they just review complaints from lawyers? Law school deans? Letters complaining about President Lombardi? Indeed, if these deans are going to have their tiff with President Lombardi aired by the Board of Regents, then to be fair everyone who has a difference of opinion with President Lombardi or indeed any of Florida's university presidents should be invited by the Board of Regents to air it with them.

  17. Fourth, if such matters are going to go before the board of regents then every university president in the state is going to have to worry that someone is going to write such a letter every time he/she has a conversation with someone; which it appears to me would highly compromise his/her effectiveness.

  18. Of course, from the standpoint of legal reform, the world clearly needs people, including university presidents like Dr. Lombardi, who will stand up to lawyers, their overbearing power and influence; as the circumstances of Dr. Lombardi's resignation more than suggests this is an example of. One doesn't know of course what their motives may have been but possibly they may have been angling to get President Lombardi replaced by Dean Matasar or some other law school dean; such as at FSU.

  19. President Lombardi gave salary raises , to 4 key UF administrators by amounts ranging from $25,691 for UF General Counsel Pam Bernard to $39,143 for Vice President for Administrative Affairs Gerald Schaffer. Paul Robell, vice president for development, received a $32,023 raise and UF Provost Betty Capaldi got a $28,789 increase, raising her annual salary to $270,400 - more than Lombardi ($250,000) or Chancellor Herbert's salary ($255,000). The total for all 4 is $125,000.

  20. These raises were a substantial issue leading to the resignation; with Board of Regents Chairman Dennis Ross stating: "Clearly, the salary issue was a big issue for the chancellor and the Board of Regents".

  21. Certainly, from where I come from, there is no question that these are very big raises on top of very big salaries to begin with. I gather however there was nothing illegal about them although perhaps they required approval from some higher authority.

  22. However, compared to the many favorable financial figures associated with his tenure, they are simply insignificant.

  23. The endowment has gone from 100 million to 500 million. $125,000 is less than 1/3,000 of the 400 million increase. To look at it another way, if your stock broker makes you $3,000 in one trade but loses $1 in another, you don't go looking for another stock broker over the lost dollar.

  24. Sponsored research awards have doubled during his tenure, from $147 million to $296 million. $125,000 is less than 1/1,000 of the $149 million increase. There again, if your stock broker makes you $1,000 in one trade but loses $1 in another, you don't go looking for another broker over the lost dollar.

  25. If we take the total operating budget for the university of 1.5 billion, $125,000 is less than 1/10,000 of it. There again, if you have given your broker $10,000 to invest for you, you don't go looking for another broker if he loses a dollar.

  26. Of course one needs to adjust these figures for the fact that the increases were made over ten years whereas the salary is annual. However even so, one would have to come to the same conclusion.

  27. In short, we are basically just talking about money here, and even assuming these raises were totally unwarranted they are still totally insignificant compared to his over all performance. Indeed, to fire any CEO for misuse of 1/10,000 of his operating funds when he is doing great otherwise, would simply be idiotic. Thus I would think most people would consider that the raises are worth no more than a comment at his evaluation, or at most perhaps requiring higher approval for any further ones.

  28. The core of the issue here is of course that the Regents should be focusing on the overall health and prosperity of the university such as how to keep these funds growing and the critical education, credibility and moral problems of the legal profession, among many others. For, of course focusing on such insignificant things will just lead to a lot of wrong decisions; which appears to be the case with Dr. Lombardi.

  29. The issue concerning Lombardi's daughter's wedding expenses is not far enough along to discuss very meaningfully at this writing. However there are two articles that can be consulted as of this writing: Lombardi releases receipts detailing costs , and Lombardi faces inquiry . However, from the little we have so far, this issue doesn't appear to be much more intelligent than the previous two.

This is a page in the Web site entitled Legal Reform Through Transforming the Discipline of Law into a Science.