May 07, 2017
Every 6 to 7 years, some professors are offered one semester or one year without teaching or administrative duties. Some use the opportunity to start an ambitious research project, like a book. Others upgrade their skills by taking courses toward another advanced degree. Some work in government or for a large corporation, gaining new insights into their areas of interest. Still others visit another institution, for example where important research collaborators or resources are located.
Since sabbaticals are rare events—perhaps occurring 4 times in a career or less—any individual faculty member will have relatively limited personal experience to draw upon and will instead rely on the collective wisdom of his or her peers.
What do you think are some of the best ways to spend a sabbatical and why?
Comments are moderated. Please provide your real name.
May 05, 2017
April 27, 2017
I could not agree more with Northwestern Dean Dan Rodriguez:
Whittier's sudden closing is obviously a tough thing for current students and faculty. Perhaps the decision will be unraveled in the face of public pressure or via littigation. Yet there seems precious little basis to jump into a matter whose complex issues are essentially private, despite the efforts of many in and around the school to make this into a public spectacle. Perhaps bloggers should neither aid nor abet these efforts.
The hubris of the unknowing.
Sometimes Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara) has been a voice of reason amidst the mindless blather about law schools in most of cyberspace (and I have linked to him on a number of occasions over the years), but here he has completely missed the boat: the general legal market has been improving, true, but it is hardly mysterious why an institution would close a law school where far fewer than half the graduates even pass the bar. Diamond just politely ignores all the relevant facts about how this school's graduates have been faring, and, of course, is ignorant of the actual finances of the school.
But far more egregious is the presumptuous intervention of Robert Anderson, Associate Professor of Law at Pepperdine. Faculty members at Whittier are going to lose their jobs, and some may never work again as law teachers or work again at all. Yet Anderson has the audacity to scold them for not having taken an early retirement in the financial interest of the school. Seriously? Does Prof. Anderson pay the bills for any members of that faculty, does he know about their college-age children or their elderly parents or their chronic medical conditions that require a salary and a health insurance plan? Does he know that a job is not just a paycheck for many people (maybe not Robert Anderson), but a focal point of purpose and meaning in a life? Does he know that many did take early retirement a few years ago, and that others might have quite reasonably believed that the school's fortunes, now that both its faculty and student body were smaller, would rebound?
I'm sure Anderson doesn't know any of these things, he's just another blogging blowhard who has decided to use someone else's misery as an opportunity to attract some attention to himself. Anderson is guilty of far worse than unknowing hubris.
UPDATE: Some choice quotes from Prof. Anderson's posts:
"The reason Whittier is closing is because of intransigent, highly paid, unproductive law professors hang around for decades even when they haven't published anything or updated their courses since they were doing the Macarena."
"The unfortunate truth of this story [about Whitter] is that none of this needed to happen..... The number of retirement-age faculty was (and is) enormous, likely larger than it has ever been. If faculties had looked beyond their own personal financial self interest they could have easily contracted to meet the market demand and avoided the disastrous effects that have afflicted law students and now law schools. Sadly, the very faculty members whose institution provided them an outrageously rewarding career over many decades seemed the least likely to 'pay it forward' by helping to reduce expenses....Thus, the story of Whittier is a story of generational wealth shifting that is seen throughout tuition dependent law schools, and indeed throughout our country."
April 26, 2017
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may monitor Student Loan Servicers more closely (Michael Simkovic)
Kathleen Engel (Suffolk), Jonathan Glater (U.C. Irvine), and 13 more legal scholars and economists who study higher education and consumer finance have submitted a comment letter supporting a recent proposal by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to monitor student loan servicers more closely. The scholars have also suggested that anonymized versions of the resulting data should be shared with researchers who can help analyze it.
Although the federal government originates and holds most student loans, it contracts with non-profits, state agencies, and private lenders to service those loans--that is, to interact with borrowers, send statements, and collect payments. The scholars expressed concerns that some servicers might not be adequately informing borrowers of the various repayment plans available to them, and could thereby be driving up defaults or financing costs for borrowers.
April 24, 2017
April 23, 2017
Elisabeth de Fontenay at Duke argues that elite law firms' expertise in sophisticated corporate transactions is self-sustaining and resistant to competition. This is in part because firms with that do the lions share of negotiation and drafting for specific kinds of transactions create, manage and retain private information about the current market for terms.
April 21, 2017
April 19, 2017
This, I believe, is the first genuine closure of an ABA-accredited not-for-profit law school since the economic collapse of 2008 and the subsequent downturn in law school applications.
(Thanks to Rick Hasen for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Whittier law faculty are suing to stop the closure of the school, basically on breach of contract grounds (the complaint takes the position that the faculty contracts incorporate the faculty handbook provisions on academic freedom and tenure, and that no financial exigency exists which would justify terminating their employment, that no educational reasons exist for doing so, and that faculty in any case have not been included in the decision-making process, as they should have been under the AAUP rules in the handbook).
April 18, 2017
Mark Hall and Glenn Cohen have extended Brian Leiter's approach to ranking faculty by scholarly citations (based on Sisk data) to the field of health law.
According to Hall and Cohen, the most cited health law scholars in 2010-2014 (inclusive) are:
|Rank||Name||School||Citations||Approx. Age in 2017|
|2||Mark A. Hall||Wake Forest||480||62|
|3||David A. Hyman||Georgetown||360||56|
|4||I. Glenn Cohen||Harvard||320||39|
|5||John A. Robertson||Texas||310||74|
|6||Michelle M. Mello||Stanford||300||46|
|10||George J. Annas||Boston U||270||72|
The full ranking is available here.