May 31, 2010
The Best Methods for Measuring the Scholarly Quality of a Faculty
So with over 250 votes cast, our earlier poll is now complete; herewith the results:
|1. There is no reliable method (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)|
|2. Impact/citation studies loses to There is no reliable method by 125–115|
|3. Reputational surveys loses to There is no reliable method by 130–110, loses to Impact/citation studies by 118–107|
|4. SSRN Downloads loses to There is no reliable method by 163–65, loses to Reputational surveys by 173–51|
I'm a bit puzzled by the victory of "there is no reliable method," though at least some readers told me they chose it as a proxy for "none of the above." That would make more sense, since I assume all those who voted for "no reliable method" are in habit of adjudging some faculties better than others, so they must actually believe there is some rational basis for those judgments. Alternatively, perhaps some readers took "reliable" to mean wholly accurate or infallible, and then, of course, one would have to agree.
I, personally, ranked reputational surveys first--not the kind U.S. News conducts, of course, but well-designed surveys of scholarly experts, who are given real information, seem to me the best gauge--certainlty, that is how good schools make appointments, based on evaluations by experts, either within the school or from outside. But, interestingly, impact/citation studies slighly beat out reputational surveys. If there was any real consensus, here, it was that SSRN downloads are not a very good measure, which certainly seems right.
Thoughts from readers who might care to explain their own votes or comment on the results? Signed comments only.
May 28, 2010
Gary Simson to Become Dean at Mercer
The folks at Mercer Law are feeling very pleased, I imagine. They've hired Gary Simson, the Joseph C. Hostetler-Baker and Hostetler Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University, as their new dean. Simson came to Case in 2006 to be dean and he served through 2008. He stepped down several months after publishing a strong condemnation of US News rankings. Simson started his teaching career at the University of Texas and was on the faculty of Cornell for 26 years.
Alstott from Harvard Back to YaleAnne Alstott (tax), who moved from Yale Law School to Harvard Law School two years ago, has now accepted an offer to return to Yale, effective July 1, 2011.
May 27, 2010
New York Law School Gets $20 Million Gift
New York Law School announced on Wednesday that it had received a $20 million gift from the Starr Foundation. According to this story:
The donation has been given in the name of The Starr Foundation Chairman Maurice Greenberg, an alumnus of the law school, which he attended using scholarship money he received after serving in the Army during World War II. Greenberg is the former chairman and chief executive officer of insurance giant American International Group Inc. He retired from that position in 2005.\
This is apparently one of the 20 largest law school gifts ever. I wonder if it's #1 for a stand-alone law school. In any case, this is great news for New York Law.
Fiddling While Rome Burns
When I saw the title of Bob Morse's recent blog posting--"U.S. News Takes Steps to Stop Law Schools From Manipulating the Rankings"--I thought, at last, U.S. News was going to do something about the massive fraud on the public in which they are now deeply implicated. But, no, this is just tinkering with trivia. When will U.S. News commit real resources to auditing the data schools report? When will U.S. News change the criteria to make deceit and 'massaging' the data impossible?
Ronald Mann to Remain at Columbia, Not Returning to TexasSometimes it ain't over, till it's over, as Yogi Berra would say.
May 26, 2010
Congratulations to the Chicago Alumni Who Have Accepted Tenure-Track Positions for This Fall
Renee Knake '99, who will join the faculty at Michigan State University.
Jake Linford '08, who will join the faculty at Florida State University.
Jamie Lund '06, who will join the faculty at St. Mary's University.
Amelia Rinehart '02, who will join the faculty at the University of Utah.
Arden Rowell '06, who will join the faculty at the University of Illinois.
Amy Stein '00, who will join the faculty at Tulane University.
You can see a (hopefully!) complete list of Chicago alumni in law teaching here.
If you are a Chicago alumnus/alumna thinking about entering the teaching market this year or next, please touch base with me if you have not already done so.
Marquette Dean Crisis Continues; Faculty Not Ready to "Heal and Move On"
A couple of weeks ago, I noted that Marquette had offered the deanship of Arts and Sciences to sociologist Jodi O'Brien. O'Brien, who is on the faculty of the Jesuit Seattle University, is an out lesbian who writes about issues of religion and homosexuality. For whatever reason - Marquette's official position amounts to "we were lazy and never bothered to read her controversial work" but some now hint that the turnabout was in response to pressure from Archbishop Jerome Listecki - Marquette (also a Jesuit school) reneged on its offer and told Professor O'Brien to go away.
Folks at Marquette have been stewing about this. Monday, faculty members from both Marquette and Seattle joined to buy a critical full page ad in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Among other things, the ad stated that the university's decision: "puts academic freedom at risk at Marquette University. We reject an intellectual 'litmus test' for our faculty, staff, and leaders in the administration."
Showing the signs of a school that perhaps worries more about sports than Arts and Sciences, the faculty added: "We note with chagrin that while the administration encouraged the university community to discuss the name change of our basketball team for a full year, less than two weeks after this egregious action, which strikes at the heart of our functioning as a university, we were told it is time for 'healing' and 'moving on.' We will not be silent until the integrity of our university is restored."
Should Junior Faculty Post Work on SSRN and, If So, When?
A tenured colleague elsewhere asks: "What about this issue of posting articles on SSRN pre-offer or pre-publication in a review. Good practice or bad for junior people? "
Here's what I typically tell junior faculty: do not post anything on SSRN (or anywhere else on the web) until it's an essentially penultimate draft. Junior people, not being 'known' quantities, don't have the luxury of posting material in rough draft with the expectation that even if it's not so good, readers will come back for more. The nightmare scenario for untenured faculty is to put an unrepresentative and mediocre piece of work on SSRN, have folks in your field look at it, and conclude, "This guy/gal is a lightweight, not worth my time anymore." The psychological literature makes clear that first impressions are very sticky, and a junior faculty member wants the first impression of other scholars to be favorable.
So, in sum, I think it's fine to post something on SSRN before it is accepted for publication, but only post it if it's been vetted by colleagues, revised, and polished. Put your best foot forward, not your rough draft.
Thoughts from readers? Signed comments only.