October 19, 2017
More than 160 readers voted in our poll from earlier in the week, and here are the results:
|1. Oxford University Press (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)|
|2. Cambridge University Press loses to Oxford University Press by 95–56|
|3. Harvard University Press loses to Oxford University Press by 95–56, loses to Cambridge University Press by 93–60|
|4. Yale University Press loses to Oxford University Press by 117–33, loses to Harvard University Press by 113–34|
|5. Princeton University Press loses to Oxford University Press by 122–25, loses to Yale University Press by 70–67|
University of Chicago Press was runner-up, trailing Princeton 81-51 (Princeton was essentially tied with Yale). These seem to me like fairly sensible results--interesting how the two UK publishers dominate. The mystery of the Harvard catalogue is how uneven it is, perhaps because it is bigger than, say, Princeton's or Yale's law catalogues.
October 18, 2017
October 16, 2017
We haven't done this poll in about eight years, so here it is once again. Choose "none of the above" if you think options not represented are better than the remaining options offered. Remember, this poll concerns solely the quality of scholarship monographs published by different presses (so this is not about publishers of treatises or casebooks, for example). Have fun!
October 12, 2017
There is an account, of sorts, at the Penn student newspaper (it's sub-headline comletely mischaracterizes through innuendo what Wax said about slavery, judging from the account later in the body of the article--but this makes me wonder how reliable the whole thing is). I can not tell to what extent Professor Wax addressed, if at all, the substantive (and devastating) criticism she receives from several of her colleagues.
UPDATE: A friend at Penn points out that Professor Wax's entire talk can be viewed here. I have not watched it, but may later.
October 05, 2017
I've been hearing about the turmoil at Emory Law from both insiders and colleagues elsewhere, who have also heard from insiders. Here's what seems absolutely clear at this point:
1. Prof. Robert Schapiro announced last March he would not seek another term as Dean.
2. Disregarding faculty input, the central administration (itself in transition) appointed an alum, a retired partner from Alston & Bird, as the Interim Dean.
3. A new Provost (Dwight McBride, a professor of English and African-American studies, previously at Northwestern) took over at Emory on July 1, and the Interim Dean started August 1. A Dean search committee was announced a few weeks later.
4. Suddenly, on September 7, the new Provost called a meeting of all faculty and staff for the next day. Provost McBride declined to take questions, and announced that (1) the Interim Dean was stepping aside ("for personal reasons"), and the Provost was appointing Prof. Jim Hughes (a current Associate Dean) as the new Interim Dean, but for a two-year period; this was done without any formal consultation with the faculty, and is probably in violation of ABA rules. Provost McBride also announced the suspension of the Dean search, and announced he was going to appoint "external reviewers" to assess the law school. He also, in the words of one faculty member, "launched into a litany of asserted grievances against the law school, which ranged from the uninformed to the false." (For what it's worth, Emory has managed to sustain its US News ranking, despite the turmoil in legal education--it was 22nd most recently--so it's not like a ranking collapse prompted this dramatic intervention. Indeed, one might have thought the recruitment of Prof Margo Bagley back from the University of Virginia last year was a sign of a school in a competitive position.)
I've yet to see any reporting on this, but this is, to put it mildly, a highly irregular set of events for a major law school. Readers should feel free to send me links to more information about what's going on.
October 04, 2017
September 29, 2017
How should a Dean who understands academic freedom respond to public controversy about faculty writing?
So we know from the unhappy example of Dean Ferruolo throwing a faculty member under the bus what not to do: you don't publish a statement on the homepage of the school singling out a faculty member's work, declare that not only do you, as Dean, disagree with it, but suggest that these are pariah views in "our law school community", and imply that the offending views may implicate "racial discrimination" and persecution of the "vulnerable" and "marginalized." Making an obligatory reference to academic freedom in passing does not undo the damage that this decanal misconduct causes.
The job of administrators is not to share their opinions about the views of members of the faculty, but to administer a university environment in which faculty and students may express points of view that do not otherwise violate anti-discrimination, sexual harassment or other laws. (The silly op-ed did not violate any applicable law obviously). So one obvious, and preferable, option would have been for the Dean to make no public statement at all. He could have met with concerned student groups, and educated them about academic freedom and reaffirmed institutional policies about equal opportunity. If a Dean makes any public statement in the context of such a controversy, it should not include any comment on a faculty member's views; it would suffice, for example, to simply reaffirm the institution's commitment to equal opportunity for all students and the like.
The Kalven Report got it exactly right fifty years ago, and all administrators ought to read and think about it. The university sponsors critics, it is not itself a critic or advocate (except for that narrow range of issues central to the university's function). A Dean, or other university administrator, forfeits his academic freedom upon becoming Dean--in part, because Deaning is not a scholarly enterprise but an administrative one, and academic freedom exists only to protect the scholarly pursuit of truth. As an administrator, the Dean's job is to protect academic freedom and protect an environment in which faculty and students can express their views in the appropriate fora, such as the classroom, scholarship, and sometimes in the public sphere. In order to preserve a community of open and vigorous debate, the Dean must not lend his authority to one side or the other. That there is an uproar about a faculty member's scholarship or op-ed does not mean the Dean must speak out, except perhaps to educate people about what a university is and what academic freedom is and why it matters.
September 28, 2017
...with only 55 new applicants for faculty positions. Altogether, there are fewer than 500 candidates seeking law teaching positions this year, one of the lowest totals I can recall. There are some indications that hiring is up this year--or at least interviewing--but it's too early to say for sure.
September 27, 2017
AG Sessions invited to talk about "free speech" (but not kneeling NFL players!) at Georgetown Law...
...but only to friends of Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett, with pre-screened questions. Other Georgetown law faculty and students aren't happy.
UPDATE: Various folks have sent me Prof. Barnett's lengthy explanation of the event and what actually transpired; it is below the fold for those who are interested:
September 25, 2017
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPTEMBER 21--UPDATED
Jonah Gelbach, a law & economics and empirical scholar at Penn, has now taken the time to set out in detail the problems with the silly op-ed. You can safely ignore the self-serving preface from the empty Jonathan Haidt, and just go straight to Gelbach's patient discussion. In the broader scope of things, it was surely not a good use of Professor Gelbach's time to have to write this in response to an opinion piece so slight, but given the controversy that has been generated, we should all be grateful that he did it.
I have no doubt that this won't stop Heather MacDonald and others from making absurd claims about Professor Wax's great wisdom and expertise, but at least those of us actually invested in the scholarly enterprise can learn something from Prof. Gelbach's analysis.
(Thanks to Jonathan Klick for the pointer.)
UPDATE: Haidt, given his great commitment to the free exchange of ideas and arguments, decided to edit out one part of Prof. Gelbach's original response to the Wax & Alexander op-ed, after Prof. Wax objected--apparently to Prof. Gelbach's devastating scrutiny of their lack of empirical evidence. In any case, Prof. Gelbach kindly offered to let me make available his actual, uncensored response, which is here: Download Facts v. Wax Part I.A - The Uncut Version. It begins with an explanation of what Haidt did and of his efforts to find out if there was, I fact, evidence for some of the curious claims in the op-ed.