FAMU law prof leaves
James Smith said he left his job as an Army prosecutor to join FAMU's fledgling law school because he believed so strongly in its mission. But last week, Smith (left) abruptly resigned, stunning his students and raising fresh questions about the depth of the law school's problems. Smith told The Gradebook in an e-mail that he quit for "professional, personal and financial reasons" but declined to be more specific. "While there some frustrations," he wrote, "I will choose to focus on the good times, for there were plenty."
Smith might not be talking, but FAMU law students are. Some said the departure of a popular, highly regarded professor should send red flags to FAMU administrators and to supporters outside the law school. "He was the best professor there by a long shot," one former student, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from other faculty and administrators, said by email. His departure is "just indicative of the situation at the school," said another student, Robert Grimaldi, also by e-mail. "Faculty members are apparently being treated poorly by the COL administration. … I am disappointed he would leave, but I can't blame him either."
Smith got his bachelor's degree from historically black Hampton University and his law degree from Duke, where he said he was one of only four black men in his class. "We have a long way to go in terms of diversity in the legal profession, particularly with regard to African American men, and I wanted to be part of the solution," Smith wrote in his email. To continue reading Smith's comments, click here.
- Ron Matus, state education reporter