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January 31, 2011

In Memoriam: Ralph Spritzer

Ralph Spritzer, who served on the law faculties of both the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University, died on January 16 at age 93.  Spritzer joined the Penn faculty in 1968 and retired in 1986.  He then moved to Arizona State where he taught as a visiting professor for many years.  In addition to his academic work, he served as chief deputy in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States from 1962-68.

Posted by Dan Filler on January 31, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

50 Blogs for Humanities Scholars

Some readers might find this list useful.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 31, 2011 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

January 28, 2011

Michigan Faculty Rejects Move to Ten Year Tenure Clock

As Paul Caron notes here, the University of Michigan faculty senate considered and overwhelmingly rejected a proposed change to the school's maximum term for faculty to seek tenure.  It was an advisory vote.  Currently, Michigan faculty may take up to eight years prior to tenure - though individual colleges may opt for shorter periods.  The law school, for example, has a six year maximum term pre-tenure, while engineering allows seven years and business and medicine permit eight. The provost has proposed extending the maximum time for tenure consideration to ten years - while still permitting individual colleges to opt for shorter periods. 

Officially, at least, this is designed to make it easier for candidates to develop the necessary portfolio for tenure.  Provost Phil Hanlon argues that this extended period will give faculty greater flexibility.  And this from the medical school:

"The Medical School is in favor of this change,” says Dr. Margaret Gyetko, professor of internal medicine and associate dean for faculty affairs. “Given our faculty’s need to focus on our tripartite mission in clinical care, education and research, flexibility to a 10-year probationary period is most appropriate.”

Why is the faculty senate so dead set against this the voluntary shift?  The most potent claim is the fear that colleges will revisit current rules, extend their pre-tenure term, and string along assistant professors - all without any improved outcomes for untenured folks. 

Five years ago, a similar proposal was floated - and shot down

Posted by Dan Filler on January 28, 2011 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

January 27, 2011

Richmond Dean Finalists

Al Brophy (UNC) reports the interesting slate of candidates.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 27, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

January 26, 2011

"The Law of Religious Liberty in a Tolerant Society"

This (relatively early) draft essay is available on SSRN for readers who might be interested; the abstract:

This is a draft of the final chapter of my forthcoming book WHY TOLERATE RELIGION? Earlier versions of material in the first part of the book appear on SSRN as "Why Tolerate Religion?" (Constitutional Commentary, 2008) and "Foundations of Religious Liberty: Toleration or Respect?" (San Diego Law Review, 2010) (the account of religion has changed somewhat since these two papers). The two main conclusions from earlier in the book that are presupposed in this draft chapter are that: (1) the moral value of liberty of conscience is not specific to claims of "religious" conscience; and (2) there are claims of conscience that are not "religious" in character (however precisely religion is understood). "Principled toleration" requires that a dominant group, with the means to stamp out or repress disfavored beliefs of others, nonetheless recognize that there are good moral reasons to permit such beliefs to be held and expressed (subject to the limits imposed by the Harm Principle). The draft chapter explores the question: what should become of the law of religious liberty in light of these conclusions? Should we opt for a scheme of universal exemptions for claims of conscience, or are there reasons to think that no exemptions for claims of conscience, religious or otherwise, are justified? The relation between toleration and religious establishment is also discussed.

This version benefitted from extremely helpful feedback from colleagues at a Work-in-Progress workshop here last week, as well as from written comments by our Law & Philosophy Fellow Ben Laurence.   Additional feedback would be welcome.  Thanks.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 26, 2011 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

The criminal (!) libel trial of Joseph Weiler in France

An update from Professor Weiler.  Some background on this bizarre case here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 26, 2011 in Faculty News, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

U of Tulsa Law "on the move"

They certainly got a nice write-up in a local paper, and Dean Levit has done well by them on the faculty hiring front.

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 26, 2011 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

January 25, 2011

LawProfs Reflect on Professor Chua's "Chinese" Parenting

A sampling:

Rob Howse (NYU)

Christine Hurt (Illinois)

Michael Livingston (Rutgers-Camden)

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 25, 2011 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

January 24, 2011

UNH Law Tops Franklin Pierce? Law School Rankings Show The Power Of A Name

Gordon Smith has posted the final rankings of his crowdsourced survey about law schools.  Perhaps the single most important thing it teaches us is: brand matters.  We all believed this already.  But either accidentally or intentionally, Gordon tested this theory with his new rankings by including one law school under two names: Franklin Pierce and the University of New Hampshire.  The two schools partnered this year and as of this past fall, the Pierce name was replaced by UNH.  So which school does the crowd think superior?  No surprise, State U fared far better than Franklin Pierce.  UNH scored a 43; Pierce a 33.  UNH jumped 20 spots in the reputation rankings simply by changing its name.

Of course, there might be substantive reasons for this.  For example, perhaps the subjects understood that Pierce would be improving in the future due to support of a big university.  But more likely they responded to their overall impression of the University of New Hampshire brand.  If you think Pierce is pleased by this reputational lift, imagine the excitement among folks at Southern New England School of Law (aka UMass Law) as they imagine the incremental benefit of their merger!

ADDITIONAL COMMENT BY BRIAN LEITER:  Dan beat me to the punch on this one, so I'll just add my comment here.  Gordon's exercise seems to me a persuasive reductio of the 'method,' and not only because of the amusing result noted by Dan.   Because Gordon's version was linked by the trashy "Above the Law" blog, there was an enormous influx of voters with dubious knowledge and motives, which might also explain the massive strategic voting (over 10,000 votes from Ann Arbor, Michigan, but less than 2,000 from Brooklyn, N.Y., that's not so good; and the nearly 20,000 votes from Washington, DC probably has more than a little to do with the rather robust performance of certain DC schools).   All surveys are predicated on the idea that aggregating the partial information of a lot of respondents will produce meaningful results, but this looks more like aggregating the misinformation and bias of a large number of respondents.

Posted by Dan Filler on January 24, 2011 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

Pondering the Angst Over Another Canadian Law School Dean Search

Canada doesn't have a ton of law schools, but it does seem to have more than its share of dean search issues.  Sometime back I blogged here, here, and here about the dean search kerfuffle at the University of Windsor law school.  Now there's been some strurm und drang around the law dean search at the University of Saskatchewan.  According to this report, members of the school's dean search committee are furious when the school's board of governors overruled the committee's selection.  The board instead named University of Alberta law professor Sanjeev Anand to the post.  Anand appears fully qualified for the job and it's unclear whether he was a passed-over finalist in the search - or if the board simply picked him out of thin air. 

If it is the former, and the committee just liked someone else better, the committee members' ire may reflect a different set of expectations than are present in U.S. dean searches.  In the States as Brian has pointed out, the norm is that the university administration may pick any candidate from the basket of qualified finalists; in Canada, it seems that the decisions of search committees are normally granted greater deference. That difference, in turn, may well reflect the fact that Canadian law schools are less commonly mini-universities and more akin to departments.  Here in the U.S., many law schools are "tubs on their own bottoms".  As a result, the university understandably wants to make sure that the chief administrator is not only a solid academic, but also capable of running a multi-million dollar non-profit.

I don't know enough about the Canadian model to be sure, however.  I've opened comments so that others might provide greater insight on these issues.

Posted by Dan Filler on January 24, 2011 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack