By Michael Baggot

MINNEAPOLIS, MN, April 23, 2008 ( – Volunteer work at abortion provider Planned Parenthood cannot qualify as part of the University of St. Thomas School of Law’s public service requirement, declared the school’s dean.

After St. Thomas’s student-run Public Service Board (PSB) decided to count PP volunteer work as part of the school’s “public service” graduation requirement, numerous students appealed to Thomas M. Mengler, Dean of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Mengler responded by issuing a statement explaining why PP service was incompatible with St. Thomas’s Catholic identity and, therefore, could not count towards “public service” hours.

“Volunteer service at Planned Parenthood, whatever the nature of that service, advances the mission of Planned Parenthood, an organization whose mission is fundamentally at odds with a core value of the Catholic Church.  Such service does not constitute ‘qualifying public service’ for purposes of satisfying the School of Law’s graduation requirement of 50 hours of public service,” explained Mengler.

Mengler noted that the PSB decision fell under his authority as Dean, since it dealt with a graduation requirement.

Mengler also wrote that the PSB Guidelines specify that “public service” work must be “consistent with the mission of the School of Law and the University of St. Thomas.”

The dean cited the precedent of University President Father Dennis Dease’s 1999 decision not to grant an undergraduate externship credit for PP volunteer work.

Mengler concluded with clarification that his decision was not to be “read as critical of the fine work of the PSB.”

Thank the Dean for his stand:

Thomas M. Mengler
  Dean and Ryan Chair in Law
  University of St. Thomas School of Law
  1000 LaSalle Avenue
  Minneapolis, MN 55403
  Fax (651)962-4881