November 30, 2015
Signs of the times: a list of schools that offered retirement incentives and "buyouts" to faculty in recent years
Blog Emperor Caron has a list of schools and links to the stories with details. It's perhaps worth noting that a number of these schools are now hiring junior faculty this year, indicating that their finances have stabilized, and they are now ready to meet the institutional needs that require full-time faculty. I expect we will see more of this in the next couple of years, which will contribute to an improved market for new law teachers (I do not expect we will get back to the pre-recession highs of 170 or more new faculty being hired each year, however, but I expect we will get back to 100 or so, from the lows of the last two years, which saw only about 65 new tenure-stream academic faculty hired nationally each year.)
November 24, 2015
Thankful for the Financial Times (Michael Simkovic)
This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the Financial Times.
While some leading business and financial newspapers have adulterated their coverage to appeal to a mass audience or reduce costs, the Financial Times continues to produce high quality, fact-based reporting about serious business, financial, and economic issues. The FT's target audience continues to be legal and financial professionals who are prepared to pay a premium for reliable information. The FT includes a minimum of hyperbole and fluff. It also offers a more global perspective than most U.S. papers, while still providing strong coverage of important U.S. issues.
For the last 5 years, I've routinely recommended the FT to students in my business law classes, who are generally more familiar with U.S. papers. The FT is available on Lexis (with a few days delay), but is well worth the cost of a subscription.
If you're not a regular reader of the FT, but have been following U.S. newspapers' higher education coverage, you can get a sense of the differences between the FT and U.S. newspapers' approach across subject areas by reading this article about fees at public UK universities exceeding those at U.S. universities. The article is entirely focused on costs and benefits of education and how those costs and benefits are distributed between students, government, and employers. There are no unrepresentative anecdotes, no histrionics, only summaries of data. When advocacy groups are cited, their interests are noted. This is what journalism can and should be.
Pearson recently sold the FT to Nikkei. Hopefully the new owners maintain the FT's high quality.
November 23, 2015
More signs of the times: Gonzaga offers buy-outs to all tenured faculty...
...and four accept, which will apparently address the immediate budgetary issues resulting from a nearly one-third decline in enrollments.
November 21, 2015
Legal historian and UVA faculty member Risa Goluboff named Dean at Virginia
UVA's announcement here.
November 20, 2015
Hate crime Harvard Law School
Photos of African-American faculty defaced. Pretty sick.
November 17, 2015
Roger Williams Law extends tuition freeze for another year
Press release here.
November 16, 2015
Against student-edited law reviews, once again
Lawyer/philosopher Ken Levy (Louisiana State) comments.
My impression is that many of the student-edited law reviews are now seeking faculty input into acceptance decisions, though not generally at the initial screening stage. What are the impressions of others? (I do not submit very often to student-edited law reviews, so my sample size is small.)
November 12, 2015
New America Foundation versus College (Michael Simkovic)
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Frank Pasquale reviews "The End of College" by Kevin Carey of the New America Foundation:
"Tax-cutting, budget-slashing politicos are always eager to hear that education could be much, much cheaper. . . . “disrupting education” mobilizes investors and excites startups. Kevin Carey’s The End of College is the latest book to seize the imagination of disrupters. It touts massive changes for post-secondary education. . . .
[Carey] believes things need to change drastically in higher ed, and that they will change. But bridging the gap between “is” and “ought” is a formidable task — one Carey tries to solve by muckraking indictments of universities on the one hand and encomia to tech firms on the other. . . . In The End of College, Silicon Valley thought leaders are as pragmatic, nimble, and public-spirited as university administrators are doctrinaire, ossified, and avaricious. . . . They’ve devised methods of teaching and evaluating students that solve (or will soon solve — Carey vacillates here) all the old problems of distance education.
Online learning at the University of Everywhere could eventually improve outcomes — or degenerate into an uncanny hybrid of Black Mirror and Minority Report. Big data surveillance will track the work students do, ostensibly in order to customize learning. . . . Want to prove you aren’t faking exams? Just let cameras record your every move and keystroke — perhaps your eye movements and facial expressions, too. . . . Certainly we can trust Silicon Valley to respect our privacy and do nothing untoward with the data! . . .
Silicon Valley has even lured universities into giving away lectures for free. The colleges think they’re establishing good karma with the public, but disrupters hope for a more chaotic endgame: students deciding to watch free courses, then proving their credentials to certifiers who give out “badges” to signify competence in a skill set. . . . It could be a very profitable business. As students pay less for actual instruction by experts, they have more money to spend on badges. . . .
Carey implies that faculty opposition to MOOCs is simply a matter of self-interest. His concerns about greed, so prominent when he discusses universities, fade away when he rhapsodizes about ed tech’s “disruptive innovators.” . . . One of Carey’s heroes . . . had a no-bid contract to MOOCify San Jose State University math instruction, only to see the partnership pause after “no more than 51 percent of Udacity students passed any of the three courses” (while “74 percent or more of the students in traditional classes passed”). . . .
Traditional college education endures — and even those who dismiss it rarely, if ever, try to dissuade their own children from attending a university. If colleges were really so terrible at preparing the workforce, the college earnings premium would have disappeared long ago. . . . [E]mployers are unlikely to subscribe to Carey’s [alternatives to college].
So why bother reading Carey? Because, like Donald Trump blustering his way to the top of the Republican field by popping off shocking sentences, Carey’s rhetoric has political heft. To the extent it gains traction among education policy staffers (and the student loan companies that love to hire them), it changes the debate. The End of College is a master class in translating an elite project of privatization and austerity into bite-sized populist insults, even as it sings the praises of powerful corporations.
Carey claims he wants dramatically better educational opportunities for all. But that goal will require more public support . . . Many millionaires and billionaires want to see their taxes go down . . . Before touting D.C. researchers’ “findings” and “big idea books,” the media and indeed all of us should look closely at exactly what interests are funding the think tanks behind them."
November 11, 2015
Sleazy lawyer Marc Randazza gets caught
A number of law professors have been sharing the news on Facebook. Randazza first emerged on my radar screen as the lawyer defending Anthony Ciolli of Autoadmit notoriety, and later represented the slimy gossip blog, Above the Law. He always struck me as a bit creepy, but he's got bigger troubles now. A strange but not wholly surprising ending. (Randazza is challenging the arbitration decision in Nevada courts, so we'll see if there isn't another chapter.)
November 10, 2015
In Memoriam: John H. Jackson (1932-2015)
The Georgetown memorial notice (where Jackson spent the last nearly twenty years of his distinguished career) is here.
(Thanks to Robert Thompson for the pointer.)