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June 17, 2019

AAUP censures Vermont Law School

Rightly so, although what actual effect this will have is unclear.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 17, 2019 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

June 12, 2019

Daughter of Yale law prof Amy Chua, staunch defender of (now) Justice Kavanaugh,

...will now clerk for Justice Kavanaugh.  Talk about log rolling!  (Earlier coverage.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 12, 2019 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

June 11, 2019

Thomas Jefferson Law School loses ABA accreditation

Unless the decision is reversed on appeal, the school is unlikely to survive.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 11, 2019 in Legal Profession | Permalink

June 6, 2019

2019 entry-level hiring report, the results (CORRECTED & UPDATED, 6/6/19)

Courtesy of Professor Lawksy of Northwestern, as always.  I was surprised that there weren't more total hires this year, given how the market began.  It no doubt helped that there were fewer candidates, even though the total number of hires barely budged.

We can compare the results by school to the number of alumni in the first FAR, which is increasingly the only one that matters; here is the percentage succcess rate of candidates by school of graduation:

Yale University (60%)

Stanford University (58%)

University of Chicago (56%)

University of Michigan (50%)

University of Virginia (50%)

Northwestern University (40%)

Harvard University (39%)

Cornell University (33%) (only 3 candidates on market)

New York University (28%)

University of California, Berkeley (18%) [note:  there are Berkeley hires not yet reflected in the Lawsky data]

Columbia University (13%)

University of California, Los Angeles (13%)

University of Pennsylvania (13%)

As a point of personal privilege, I'll note this understates our success rate, since one Chicago graduate got a tenure-track offer from us, but decided to take a tenure-track job at Stanford's Graduate School of Business instead; if he were counted (he was not in Prof. Lawsky's tally), our success rate would be 60% (he was not in the first FAR).   (Of course, other law schools may also have had graduates who turned down tenure-track jobs for tenure-track jobs in other fields.)

(I didn't have data on the number of Vanderbilt and Georgetown graduates on the market, so they are not included here.)

ADDENDUM:   Here's the comparable data from a few years ago.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 6, 2019 | Permalink

June 3, 2019

The myth of administrative bloat in Higher Education (Michael Simkovic)

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Professor Philip Hamburger of Columbia calls on the federal government to impose restrictions on access to student loans to discourage universities from hiring more administrators relative to the number of tenured faculty members. 

I sympathize with Professor Hamburger’s desire to strengthen the role of tenured faculty in university governance.  But stripping universities of resources—or giving universities perverse incentives to evade anti-administration regulations by outsourcing or automating managerial tasks when it is costlier and less effective to do so—is not the right way to accomplish such goals.

Hamburger justifies federal interference with colleges’ and universities’ internal personnel decisions on the grounds that there is “administrative bloat” in higher education, and that such “bloat” is wasteful and leads to bad outcomes.  The evidence he presents to support this claim is that there are more administrators in higher education, relative to changes in the numbers of tenured faculty or students, than there used to be.

But the growth of managerial and administrative employees as a share of the workforce is an economy-wide phenomenon, not one that it is unique or unusual for higher education.

As I’ve discussed previously, compared to higher education, many industries in the private sector pay administrators more.  Compared to higher education, many private sector industries also employ more managerial employees as a larger share of the workforce.

There is no evidence of “administrative bloat” in higher education.  To the contrary, colleges and universities dedicate a much lower share of their workforce to managerial occupations than other industries such as real estate and construction, financial services, energy, entertainment, software and technology industries, religious organizations, professional services, and architecture and engineering firms. (OES data here).  

Higher education is about on par with chemical manufacturing, clothing retailers, and freight transportation with respect to its use of managerial employees.

There are good reasons to believe that public and non-profit educational institutions manage themselves well when left to their own devices.  Higher education is much better, and much more widely available than it once was.  Earnings premiums are higher, and increase (after controlling for student characteristics) when universities spend more per student.  Completion rates are growing, after controlling for students’ race and institution type.  Educational attainment is also higher. 

These changes might relate to the increase in administration.  More diverse and less elite student populations might require more in the way of administrative support programs.  A more specialized faculty may require more administrative support to handle routine tasks and free the faculty to focus on their areas of expertise in research and teaching.

Rather than attempting to divide university communities internally—for example, by pitting faculty against administrators—it would be far more productive to focus on increasing the total amount of public resources dedicated to higher education.  At only 3% of GDP and with rates of returns that are often higher than private sector investment, there is ample room for more public investment in education.

To the extent that some administrators engage in unproductive busy-work, this is likely to be due to regulatory and reporting requirements imposed on universities by federal and state governments and agencies. 

Some of these regulations may be unnecessary and counter-productive.  Before rushing to impose new—and perhaps ill-conceived—regulations on universities, regulators should think long and hard about lifting some of the mandates they have imposed in the past.  Compliance costs are only a symptom.  Regulation is the cause.

Posted by Michael Simkovic on June 3, 2019 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Of Academic Interest | Permalink