Law dean’s note criticizes ‘rumor mill’

Frustrated with what he calls a “rumor mill” at the Kansas University School of Law, dean Steve McAllister has chastised students and faculty in the latest edition of the student newsletter.

McAllister said people in the law school have been spreading “extraordinary lies” about him and his wife this semester.

“The maturity level this sort of behavior represents is more typical of a high school, or perhaps even a junior high school, than a graduate level professional school that aspires to be one of the top 25 public law schools in the country,” he said.

The comments are in the May edition of the “Brief-Brief,” a student newsletter that was distributed this week.

McAllister and Suzanne Valdez Carey, an associate clinical specialist at the law school, married earlier this semester.

A source at the law school, asking to remain anonymous, said some students had circulated e-mails about the relationship and sought public information about McAllister and Carey’s divorces and marriage.

“To be interested in me and my wife because we happen to be the dean or your teacher is, I suppose, natural and understandable,” McAllister wrote. “But to spread untrue rumors and gossip and to search for details of our personal lives is not.”

In an interview Friday, McAllister said he tried to turn his concerns into a teaching tool for students.

“I tried to say it in a positive way,” he said. “A lot of what lawyers do involves confidence and confidential information. Lawyers don’t go out and spread gossip.”

He said his frustrations had no bearing on his candidacy for the law dean position at the University of California-Los Angeles. He is one of four finalists for the position and interviewed last week in Los Angeles.

James Owen, a law student, said he had heard plenty of rumors about McAllister and Carey this year.

“I understand where his frustration came from,” Owen said. “The law school is so gossipy. We’re a small school and try to be very open, which has benefits. But there’s a downside.”

Owen said he thought McAllister’s decision to write about the rumors in his column only added to the discussions.

“I think this has been kicked up to a different level,” he said. “This platform is not the best.”