Thursday, April 20, 2006
The University of Texas School of Law has made two major senior hires: Daniel Rodriguez (positive political theory, administrative law)--formerly Dean of the University of San Diego School of Law and, before that, a professor for a decade at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley--has turned down offers from Duke, Vanderbilt, and USC to join the Texas faculty in 2007; and William Sage at Columbia Law School, who is one of the leading health law scholars in the country, and who is visiting at Texas this year, will join the full-time faculty in the fall, where he will also put his academic background as both a JD and an MD to good use as the new Vice-Provost for Health Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he will help develop institutional and research programs linking UT Austin (which does not have its own medical school) with the medical schools in the UT System.
I will now assert a point of personal privilege, as it were, to observe what a remarkable transformation has taken place at UT in the last decade, and especially in the last five years. From 1981-2001, UT hired exactly three faculty laterally from peer or better law schools: Douglas Laycock (constitutional law, remedies) from the University of Chicago in 1981 (who is now taking emeritus status here to become the proverbial "trailing spouse" en route to Michigan!); Julius Getman (labor law) from Yale Law School in 1986; and William Forbath (legal history, constitutional law) from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1998.
By contrast, in the last five years alone we have recruited the following tenured faculty from peer or better law schools: Lawrence Sager (constitutional law) from NYU; Ronald Mann (commercial law, intellectual property) from Michigan; Bernard Black (corporate law, securities regulation) from Stanford; and now Dan Rodriguez, formerly of Boalt, and Bill Sage from Columbia. We are "in discussion" with some other faculty from "top five" law schools who have also expressed interest in heading to Austin. And none of this includes mention of recruitment of scholars of international distinction like Jane Stapleton (torts, products liability) from the Australian National University and Sir Basil Markesinis (comparative law) from Oxford University (he is now at University College London when he is not at Texas); or of first-rate folks in their fields (who may not be "household" names, as it were) like Robert Peroni in international tax from George Washington University.
But, alas, not all the Austin news is good news, since our other senior offer this year was declined: Keith Whittington (constitutional law, theory, and history) will return to the Department of Politics at Princeton University.
Enough navel-gazing: the other newsworthy item here is the hit that Columbia Law School has taken this year: three senior faculty have moved to NYU; one has gone to Harvard; and now one has gone to Texas. The splendid addition of the Scotts from Virginia hardly offsets these losses. Some correspondents suggest that the "balance of [legal academic] power" in New York City has now shifted to Greenwich Village. I am, personally, skeptical that one year can mark such a change, given some of the outstanding laterals Columbia has recruited in the last couple of years (Thomas Merrill from Northwestern, Timothy Wu from UVA come immediately to mind, but there are others). The next few years may be instructive on this score.