March 05, 2020
February 27, 2020
This "survey" has been making the rounds, despite being obviously meaningless: it is based on a survey of 96 "faculty and staff" in the U.S. and Canada. Only 96! There are some 8,000 law faculty in the United States alone, and I would guess that the 16 law schools in Canada have another 800-1,000 academic staff as well.
February 05, 2020
We recently noted an open letter regarding irregularities in Professor Leshem's tenure review, which is the subject of on-going litigation. Here is Professor Leshem's most recent brief in the legal case: Download Opening Brief Leshem (highlights added)
And here is USC's response: Download 200204 Respondent's Brief dtd 2-4-20
January 27, 2020
Surprisingly large number of law professors believe in God and are religious compared to other highly educated academics
That isn't the takeaway emphasized by the Blog Emperor or the study's author, but it's surely what must leap out at any person knowledgeable about the academy. For example, more than 50% of law professors generally believe in God or a "higher power" (21% are absolutely certain that God exists), while only 24% are atheists. By contrast, 73% of academic philosophers are atheists (CORRECTED: I linked to the wrong data first time around). Similarly, 92% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) are atheists. Admittedly, NAS members are the most distinguished and accomplished scientists, so a fairer comparison would be something like religious belief among the most elite and distinguished legal academics. Would that approach the 92% figure? An interesting question!
January 22, 2020
The letter is here, and includes many prominent signatories (the letter is accepting more signatories as well). The case concerns Shmuel Leshem, who was denied tenure in 2013; the controversy concerns the solicitation and use of confidential journal referee reports as part of the tenure process. I would agree, for the reasons given in the letter, that that is not a proper use of such referee reports. I do not know what role they played in the adverse tenure decision at USC, but the fact that they were even solicited and considered is surprising.
January 07, 2020
A pleasingly candid account of one scholar's experience, by Tess Wilkinson-Ryan (Penn). When I visited at Chicago in Autumn 2006, my kids were 10, 7 and 4, and they, and my wife (who was practicing law in Austin), stayed in Austin, and I commuted roughly every other week back to Austin. (My father lived nearby in Austin, which sure helped in this situation!) It was an ordeal, but the nice thing about the quarter system is it was a short-lived ordeal.
December 13, 2019
December 09, 2019
He's partly right, and partly very wrong and confused about academic freedom. He's correct that it is part of the Kalven Report's vision of the university that it is not the job of administrators to take sides on substantive questions addressed by faculty; this is why I objected to Dean Ruger's criticism of Professor Wax's (admittedly idiotic and insulting) statements about immigration. (I get to express my opinion because I'm not her Dean or Provost etc.) However, it's absurd to think that "academic freedom" protects a faculty member's right to denigrate the competence of an identifiable segment of the student body at her school, as Professor Wax did. Professor Wax, like any faculty member, is free to dispute the merits of affirmative action in admissions; she is not free, however, to disclose the academic performance of her students. As I noted at the time, Dean Ruger's sanction (removing Professor Wax from a mandatory 1L course) was a mild one; he would have been justified in adopting more severe sanctions. Given this alum's confused understanding of academic freedom (not to mention student privacy), it is probably just as well he is no longer involved in university governance.
December 04, 2019
as The New York Times misleadingly reports today; indeed, he's not even one of the ten-most cited members of the GW law faculty. On Professor Turley's website (the source for the NYT claim), the context was clearer: in Judge Posner's 2003 book Public Intellectuals, Turley was the second-most cited law professor due almost entirely to references to him in the media. On the other hand, he is poised to soon displace Alan Dershowitz as the "most-cited law professor by Donald Trump"!
UPDATE: This is not atypical of the reception accorded Professor Turley's performance today.
November 22, 2019
Eric Rasmusen is a business professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, who has been a well-known "right-wing nut" (to use the techincal term) on social media for many years. One of his recent tweets (less obnoxious than some of his others, actually) attracted a lot of attention, leading Provost Lauren Robel to issue this statement. (Professor Rasmusen's response is here.) Provost Robel is a lawyer, indeed, the former Dean of the Law School. Her job is not to attack members of her faculty, however stupid or foolish they may be; her job is to uphold the constitutional rights of faculty (which she professes she will do) and insure compliance with anti-discrimination laws, among other tasks. We've seen these kinds of mistakes by administrators before, but it's especially disappointing when a lawyer and law professor make them. For an extended discussion, see this CHE column of mine from a few years ago.
ADDENDUM: What should Provost Robel have said in response to the media outcry? This would have sufficed: "Professor Eric Rasmussen of the Business School speaks only for himself, not for the University. The First Amendment protects his speech, whether or not the University or members of the public agree with it. The University will continue to insure that all faculty comply with anti-discrimination laws in the classroom." It would have taken more courage, and more commitment to the ideal of a university, for Provost Robel to have kept it this brief, but that would have made all the relevant points.