The winds of change are not blowing gently at Regent University in Virginia Beach. In July, the board of trustees named a new president and an interim law-school dean. Some students and alumni say those changes signal a disturbing philosophical shift away from Regent’s conservative moorings. Students are also crying foul over the manner in which the former law-school dean, Herbert Titus, was removed.

Student leaders claim Titus’s removal violated the school’s policy on tenure and that it will upset the ratio between students and faculty. For those reasons, some fear the law school will be unable to gain full accreditation with the American Bar Association (ABA). The school currently has provisional ABA accreditation.

Regent University policy requires faculty contract renewal unless the faculty member has breached that contract, says student council member Norm Sabin. “[Breach of contract] has not been put forth or even alleged in the situation with Dean Titus.”

“The events and the way they were brought about … shed some doubt on whether the tenure system as represented was really there,” Sabin says. “Without tenure we cannot get ABA approval.” Further, he says, replacing Titus with faculty member Paul Morken helps bring the student-to-faculty ratio to a level the ABA considers “unacceptable.”

Titus holds a conservative approach to constitutional law that Sabin characterizes as “very much textually oriented.” Some speculate he was removed in an effort to tone down the school’s conservative emphasis. Trustees have not explained their reasons, saying only that before his dismissal Titus was offered a paid sabbatical and a professorship, which he rejected.

In an interview with CT, new president Terry Lindvall declined to explain ...

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