September 11, 2019
September 09, 2019
Twitter tends to be a forum for superficial and ill-considered reactions, but this one certainly was striking. I had written that, while I agreed with Professor Witt about the merits of changing the name of a Yale residential college named after a gross apologist for chattel slavery, I was,
also inclined to agree with Professor Kronman that (as he recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal), “Diversity, as it is understood today…means diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Diversity in this sense is not an academic value. Its origin and aspiration are political [i.e. justice for victims of discrimination]. The demand for ever-greater diversity in higher education is a political campaign masquerading as an educational ideal.”
In response, Jeffrey Selbin, a clinician at Berkeley's law school, tweeted:
White straight cis male education is apolitical until everyone else wants in. Then, “The demand for ever-greater diversity in higher education is a political campaign masquerading as an educational ideal.“ Seriously?
Of course, no one suggested that during the era when elite institutions systematically discriminated against non-WASPs and women and racial and ethnic minorities that these institutions were apolitical: far from it, they were devoted to reproducing the class system with a particular racial and ethnic composition. But none of us were even talking about that era!
September 04, 2019
Lots of information, including a breakdown of Deans by years of service, alma mater, race, gender and more. (For example, more than one-third of Deans are now women [including the Deans at Yale, Columbia, Stanford, Virginia, Duke, Northwestern, and UCLA, among other places].)
September 03, 2019
Legal historian John Witt here, responding to former Dean Anthony Kronman's new book (see this interview for the flavor, although he doesn't discuss the renaming of Calhoun College). I'm inclined to agree with Professor Witt that renaming Calhoun College was a more than reasonable decision; but I'm also inclined to agree with Professor Kronman that (as he recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal), “Diversity, as it is understood today…means diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. Diversity in this sense is not an academic value. Its origin and aspiration are political [i.e. justice for victims of discrimination]. The demand for ever-greater diversity in higher education is a political campaign masquerading as an educational ideal.”
August 29, 2019
August 20, 2019
August 12, 2019
Many readers will, I think, enjoy the commencement address to the Law School's Class of 2019 delivered by my colleague David Weisbach. At the preceding link, you'll find a transcript and also a link to a video of the talk. It produced a spontaneous standing ovation, a first in the history of commencement addresses at Chicago as far as anyone can recall.
July 24, 2019
Penn's Amy Wax has done it again, and this time her Dean has caved into those (reasonably) offended and condemned the substance of her remarks. In the past, Penn Dean Ruger did the right things when it came to Wax, but in this instance he failed: it is not the job of a Dean to condemn the protected and lawful speech of faculty members. (See this for more details about my views on this score.) The public response should have been succinct and consisted only of this: "Professor Wax speaks for herself, not for the institution." Individual faculty are free to exercise their speech rights to criticize Wax's latest stupidity, but the institution, for whom the Dean speaks, should remain silent. Here is how the University of Chicago's 1967 Kalven Report (authored by famed First Amendment scholar Harry Kalven) puts it:
The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society. A university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices, and institutions. By design and effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones. In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.
The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic.....To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry, and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures. A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community....
Since the university is a community only for these limited and distinctive purposes, it is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues o fthe day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness.