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UM Law School Dean steps down

UM School of Law
Posted at 10:22 AM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 13:53:50-04

MISSOULA — The University of Montana confirmed to MTN News Thursday morning that the Dean of the Alexander Blewett II School of Law, Paul Kirgis, submitted his resignation.

University spokesman Dave Kuntz said Kirgis sent an email to UM President Seth Bodnar shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday announcing his resignation.

Kuntz said Provost Reed Humphry will take over as interim dean as the school transitions to new leadership.

Kuntz also said he is aware of an email Kirgis sent to students with more information, but can't yet confirm the information in it.

The Daily Montanan reports Kirgis remains a tenured faculty member at UM, where he was hired in 2015.

In an email Thursday to the Blewett School of Law community, Kirgis said Associate Dean of Students Sally Weaver also will “step aside from her position, according to The Daily Montanan.

In a walkout Tuesday that drew roughly 120 demonstrators, students from the law school called on President Seth Bodnar to request resignations from Kirgis and Weaver. Students had said the law school administrators were mishandling sexual misconduct allegations and destroying the reputation of students and faculty at the law school.

The resignation and demonstration followed reports from students that Kirgis and Weaver discouraged women from taking sexual assault allegations, including rape, to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. The Title IX office handles sexual misconduct on campus.

Kirgis and Weaver have denied the allegations, The Daily Montanan reports. UM said investigations found the administrators did not violate university policy but has not released any documents, citing confidentiality.

In a statement provided by UM to The Daily Montana, President Bodnar said he respects the dean’s decision.

“UM is taking steps to support our students in every way possible, and that begins through a collaboration with law school faculty, staff, and students to have a successful transition of leadership,” Bodnar said. “We respect Dean Kirgis’s decision and are thankful for his commitment to the success of the law school and the broader university.”

- Developing story. Check back for updates.