Leadership Crisis At LUMS Following Unfair Termination Of Dean
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) appears to be facing strong criticism for terminating its newly appointed Dean of the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law (SAHSOL). Barely seven months into his tenure, Professor Jeff Redding, an Australian academic, who was appointed Dean after a search process spanning over two years was ostensibly removed for not being able to appear physically in Lahore.
In a letter sent by SAHSOL’s International Advisory Board to LUMS Vice Chancellor and Rector, a copy of which is available with Naya Daur Media, the Board points out that during the pandemic most faculty all over the world are working from home and that Professor Redding too was awaiting his vaccination before travel. The letter further notes: “SAHSOL has a worrying history of revolving leadership, with detrimental consequences for the development of LUMS students and faculty and broader legal academic community in Pakistan and South Asia. Professor Redding has been deeply committed to Pakistan, and LUMS, for at least two decades. He is a leading international and interdisciplinary academic on the laws of South Asia. His recent involuntary dismissal does a grave disservice, not only to him, but to the mission of SAHSOL and the reputation of LUMS.” The letter, which was copied to other in LUMS hierarchy and has since been circulated widely amongst faculty and students ends with expressing ‘profound concerns regarding the decision’ and a desire to understand how LUMS ‘will address the severe reputational consequences of it.”
Prof. Redding disappointed over termination
Naya Daur Media reached out to Professor Redding, who is currently associated with Melbourne University Law School, who confirmed his termination and expressed disappointment at the decision and manner of his termination. He pointed out that there was an open, on-going and clear understanding that he would arrive at LUMS as soon as travel restrictions were lifted, adding that he wished for himself and his family to remain safe and that throughout this period Australia has been facing some of the harshest lockdowns globally.
He said that almost every Dean and other administrator at LUMS who hailed from abroad was not physically on campus as classes too were being conducted online. He further pointed out that he had spent hundreds of hours in online meetings and engagements to ensure that SAHSOL continued to move forward and various initiatives were started and sustained.
He expressed his deep commitment to lifting SAHSOL out of its current acute state of neglect and, while wishing LUMS the very best, he said that unfortunately it was very challenging for foreign faculty to come to Pakistan in the first place.
“I am saddened by this entire turn of events. I sought to lead SAHSOL in a spirit of humility, transparency, rigor and, just as importantly, sabr, fairness and kindness. I hope these values will remain my legacy,” he told Naya Daur Media.
A series of unfair dismissals
Professor Redding’s dismissal may be the latest in a series of such episodes. Over two and a half years ago the then Dean of SAHSOL Dr. Martin Lau who is currently a Professor of South Asian Law at the School of Law, SOAS, also left before completing his term — barely one and a half years into it. A senior and respected scholar of Islamic law, his premature departure created acute concern and SAHSOL remained without full-time time leadership as the search process was unsuccessful for almost two and a half years due to shortage of capable candidates interested in the position.
That there is a certain trend here is evidenced by the fact that Dr. Ali Qazilbash – the person heading the law program prior to Professor Lau – also left once when his contract was not renewed. Further investigations reveal that SAHSOL has also lost most of its senior, founding faculty and now operates with a small full-time faculty, relying mostly on adjunct faculty who can only teach and mentor when they are not otherwise occupied in their full-time jobs as practicing lawyers. The School is presently being administered by a member of the remaining faculty who has no leadership experience and only recently received her PhD.
This is a disappointing state of affairs given SAHSOL has now been around for over fifteen years and promised to be a regional powerhouse of research and quality teaching. However, its fate seems no different from other institutions that started promisingly but became victims of indifferent or even hostile administration.
The members of the International Advisory Board for SAHSOL who penned the letter expressing strong concerns over the arbitrary termination of Professor Jeff Redding as Dean is comprised of the members listed below. The link to the Advisory Board page on the LUMS website appears to have been disabled after the members protested to the LUMS management.
Dr. Shoaib Ghias, Esq. (Goodwin Procter LLP, San Francisco, CA)
Dr. Ahmad Ghouri (Sussex)
Dr. Vanja Hamzić (SOAS)
Professor Matthew Nelson (SOAS; University of Melbourne)
Professor Asifa Quraishi-Landes (University of Wisconsin – Madison)