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June 30, 2009

The Illinois Legislature's Higher Education Scholarship Boondoggle

A colleague at the University of Illinois writes:

An aspect of the admissions ruckus at UI that is not getting nearly enough attention is that each member of the legislature has two 4 year full scholarships to state schools to hand out with no criteria whatsoever (and can even do them in 8 one year increments, 4 two year increments, etc.) and these are unfunded – that is, the schools to which the recipients go have to fund eat the costs. That’s a hefty hunk of change – and there is no justification for allocating state resources in this way other than to give legislators’ clout.

The legislative description of this boondoggle is here and a Chicago Tribune columnist notes them here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 30, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

Right-Wing Crazies Go Crazy About Sunstein!

Senator Chambliss of Georgia has placed a "hold" on his nomination, and this site gives an indication of what's driving these folks wild.  The ironies here are immense:  Sunstein is a 'moderate' (by US standards) on a whole host of central economic and regulatory issues, but his relatively 'liberal' positions on animal rights and gay marriage clearly have the potential to upset the far right.  Pretty ridiculous.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 30, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

June 29, 2009

DePaul Deanship Fiasco Update--More on Provost Epp's Heavy-Handed Tactics

(Start here for earlier coverage.)  Trouble between former DePaul Law Dean Weissenberger and DePaul Provost Epp goes back to at least January of this year, when Provost Epp gave Weissenberger 24 hours to rescind several offers to faculty, senior and junior, even though the offers had been made in accordance with university procedures.   Weissenberger declined, the offers were accepted, and Epp, having obviously overreached, did not pursue the matter further.  But now, of course, he has had his vengeance.

Based on current anecdotal reports, I expect at least 10% of DePaul's law faculty to be gone by the end of the academic year 2009-10; the number may well be higher, though the difficult economic situation means that many schools that would be keen to hire faculty at DePaul may not have the money to do so. 

UPDATE:  Blog Emperor Caron has more details.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 29, 2009 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

June 28, 2009

The Chicago Tribune Series on Political Muscle and U of Illinois Admissions

The Chicago Tribune has run a series of articles (start here and follow the links) on the use of political clout to get sub-par students admitted to the University of Illinois (including the law school), but appears to have missed the actual story (they are journalists, after all):  the University of Illinois is hostage to the public purse for a lot of its operations, so every request for 'special consideration' on admissions from a politician with influence on the purse strings comes with an implied threat:  admit this student, or lose funding.  One can be sure Chancellor Herman understands that.  Attacking university officials over this scandal is like attacking the victim of a robbery for handing over his money.   (Also odd is that they missed the sarcasm in former Dean Hurd's e-mails to the Chancellor: are journalists really this humorless?)

And, by the way, the same story is waiting to be written about admissions at every state university in the country. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 28, 2009 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

June 26, 2009

University of North Texas to Open New Public Law School in Dallas

It's now official.  SMU has a niche in the Dallas market that will be unaffected by this development, I imagine; the bigger risk is for Texas Wesleyan, which is also private, but not as old or established in the legal community as SMU.  Of course, this is on the assumption that UNT will have significantly subsidized tuition which, in Texas, is unpredictable.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 26, 2009 in Legal Profession | Permalink | TrackBack

June 24, 2009

Illinois Appellate Judge Warren Wolfson Named Interim Dean at DePaul

The DePaul press release is here.  His academic experience is, not surprisingly, very minimal (he has been an adjunct at Chicago-Kent and a trial advocacy instructor at the University of Chicago); he is primarily a practitioner and a jurist and, I'm told, a well-regarded one.  But one suspects he doesn't know what he's walked into here.  What he ought to do is, after a month or so of housekeeping, resign and encourage the Administration to reinstate Dean Weissenberger.  If he doesn't, my guess is he will spend most of next year bidding farewell to members of the DePaul faculty.

Meanwhile, the University has succeeded in fooling some reporters into thinking that the firing of Dean Weissenberger was unrelated to the letter he wrote to the ABA.  No doubt the plan to replace Weissenberger was in the works for a couple of months, but so was the ABA review process and no doubt for some time Dean Weissenberger was pressing the university to honor the ABA-mandated agreement on law school tuition revenue, long before he felt he had to disclose the university's breach of that agreement to the ABA.   Where are the legal journalists on this issue?  It is not reporting to simply quote the lies and half-truths of the university spokesperson.

And where is the ABA on all this?   This sets a horrible precedent:   the ABA brokers an agreement as part of the accreditation process, and the university then punishes a law school Dean for trying to enforce it.  ABA accreditation is often preoccupied with trivia and intra-law school interest-group politics.  Protecting revenue streams for member schools is actually important.  How can the ABA remain silent while a Dean is fired in retaliation for trying to enforce ABA-mandated agreements?

UPDATE:  More information here, including the text of a resolution sent to the Administration protesting the selection of an Interim Dean without any consultation.    I've gotten more details on Provost Epp's conduct (not for publication at this stage), which now officially qualifies as even more scandalous than is already clear from the public record:  he will destroy the College of Law if not stopped.  Where is the University President?  Where is the Board of Trustees?  In nearly twenty years in legal academia, I have never seen a law school mistreated like this by a university central administration.

ONE MORE:  I should note that I've never met or spoken with or had any contact with Dean Weissenberger.   Concerned members of the DePaul community, and others, have forwarded information to me.

ANOTHER:  Ralph Brill (Chicago-Kent), a longtime friend and colleague of Judge Wolfson, comments on his appointment.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 24, 2009 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

June 23, 2009

A new look for the blog

There are still some kinks to be worked out, including the fact that a very old post about Illinois admissions has showed up at the top.   Patience please!  Thanks.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 23, 2009 in Navel-Gazing | Permalink | TrackBack

June 22, 2009

Post Named Dean at Yale Law School

Robert C. Post, a constitutional law scholar, who taught for many years at Berkeley before moving to Yale in 2003, has been named the new Dean, effective July 1. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 22, 2009 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

California Budget Crisis: 8% Pay Cut for Faculty in the Offing

Wow.  Any private or state school with money for hiring is going to be looking hard at the U of C system for talent next year if this goes through.

UPDATE:  A more upbeat assessment from Berkeley's Dean Edley, though he does not address the impending salary cut.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 22, 2009 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

June 20, 2009

DePaul Associate Dean Siegel to Resign Upon Appointment of the Interim Dean

Stephen Siegel, a distinguished constitutional historian and longtime member of the DePaul faculty who is currently Associate Dean, announced this morning that he will resign "effective when the expected announcement is made that an interim dean has been appointed from outside the law school community without any faculty input or consultation."  To his colleagues he wrote in part:

You should notice that, although I strongly disagree with the decision to remove Glen, my resignation is tied into the mode of his replacement.
In my 37 years of service to DePaul I have served under 5 deans. (I'm not counting interim and acting deans).  Four of them were replaced mid-term.  The three mid-term replacements before Glen were removed because they had become incompetent or ineffective.  I whole-heartedly welcomed those replacements and only wished the University had acted sooner.  But every previous time, the University turned to the faculty with expectation and trust that we would step into the breech - and we did, superbly, working cooperatively to bring the best out of the situation.  This time, although we have the most talented and prestigous collection of faculty we ever have had - we have effectively been put into a two year receivership - with no consultation, dialogue, trust.
Again, I disagree with removing Glen, but the decision could have been implemented with far less collateral damage to our standing.  For example, a simple announcement that Glen had decided to resign effective a year from now - and that a normal seach for a successor to continue our advancement would begin immediately.  Our future has been made far more difficult - the collective work of a generation of faculty and deans, which had finally reached sustained takeoff, was decisively set back. 
Letters to the University President and Provost from other law faculty, including all the junior faculty, have made similar points.  Provost Epp has done extraordinary damage to the College of Law at DePaul, and all because the Dean was using the ABA review process to force the University to abide by a financial agreement the university had breached.  That is what the Dean of the law school is supposed to do; the University Administration is also supposed to abide by its agreements.
Who will take the job of Dean at DePaul while Provost Epp remains in office?  No one with any academic credibility quite obviously--all this reminds me of the Irvine Deanship fiasco, which, if Chancellor Drake had not wisely reversed himself, would have spelled the end of the new UCI law school before it began.  No one serious, or with any self-respect, wants to be Dean of a law school where the Administration behaves caprciously and recklessly, whether out of incompetence, vanity, or in response to external political pressures (the latter not, presumably, an issue in the DePaul case).  One imagines that many law schools in the Chicago area, as well as nationally, are looking over the faculty roster at DePaul this weekend thinking about whom they might recruit.
So will Provost Epp have the wisdom of Chancellor Drake?  In the midst of a severe economic downturn, including in the legal market, removing a successful Dean who is, by all accounts, well-liked and respected by faculty, staff, students, and alumni all because the Dean stood up for the interests of his College really defies belief.  There is, perhaps, someone at DePaul who ought to be summarily removed from office, but it does not appear to be Dean Weissenberger.
UPDATE:  The full text of various open letters from faculty are here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 20, 2009 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack