Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Thanks to Nancy for inviting me to contribute to this page. I am especially grateful that she has invoked my name in the fight against Chadsworth Osborne Junior III. I agree that it is the responsibility of every lover of knowledge and justice in the legal academy to oppose the scourge known as PrivilegeLaw. In future posts I will reveal, one by one, the true secrets of my despicable classmate Chadsworth.
In the meanwhile, I exhort everyone to support Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot, Class Bias, and MoneyLaw. And in case you haven't visited, please drop by my own blog, named simply Grantmore, and my SSRN page. I may not have a body, but I do have a blog!
Best wishes to all,
As you are already aware, in our latest January issue of The National Jurist, we covered the story on law schools and their relationship with the U.S. News & Word Report’s rankings. We seem to have touched a nerve and as a result, many discussions have arisen on the subject. We have posted a link to your blog site on http://www.nationaljurist.com/ on our blogs page. To keep this important discussion going, we would also appreciate if you could post our link as well. You can follow the discussion or join in the conversation yourself by e-mailing comments to Rebecca@CypressMagazines.com.
858-300-3203 ext. 303
I'm certainly happy to do my part. If you'd like to weigh in on the story, or on my posts about the story (see here for my post on the National Jurist story, here for my MoneyLaw post on the story, and here for my post on the AALS Workshop on The Rankings Game), you can do that here or on The National Jurist's website.
For those whose clicking fingers are already too pooped, here's National Jurist's post about the response to its lead article in the current issue:
In our latest issue of The National Jurist, we covered the issue of law schools and their relationship with the U.S. News & World Report's rankings. We seem to have touched a nerve. You can follow the discussion by clicking on the blog links below -- or join in the conversation yourself. E-mail comments to Rebecca@CypressMagazines.com[.]
* Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports: "How Far will Law Schools Go to Win the Rankings Race?"
* Law School Innovation: "Does US News promote good or bad innovation?"
* Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot: "Closure (?) on National Jurist"
* Shangrila Towers: "School: Much ado about nothing"
* Empirical Legal Studies: "USNWR Gaming and the Failure of Self-Regulation"
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sure, Jim, you can take the high road. I, however, now believe in fighting fire with fire, so I went straight to someone who might have been one of Osborne Junior 3d's contemporaries, Gil Grantmore. Gil has his own blog, and more important, he has some pretty interesting stories, some of which tangentially might relate to Osborne Junior 3d's performance in law school.
Perhaps a détente might be in order?
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Why wasn't I thrilled? Well (and I might be a tad sensitive about this), I wasn't happy (1) that, after two-and-a-half hours of a loaded meeting, I was so emotionally drained and frustrated that I'd ended up shedding a few tears in public (embarrassing enough at the time), and (2) that the stories (Houston Chronicle and National Jurist) reporting the tears might have been a nice hook for the reporters but certainly also added to stereotypes about women executives "not being tough enough" to lead.
In any event, I wrote Ms. Luczycki a letter, she apologized, and life moves on.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Thanks, everyone, for weighing in on my questions about SSRN "top 10 downloads" lists. Two of the comments were so good that I want to recap them here:
Here is an SSRN Top Downloads story: A friend accidentally gave his article a fairly obscure label. Soon he got a congratulatory e-mail notifying him his article was one of the Top Ten Downloads from a certain legal subject area. He had, it turned out, accomplished this with ONE download, the very download he himself undertook to verify that the article had been successfully uploaded.
As regards your SSRN inquiry, I've noted that my school, UC Davis, has just begun publicizing the "top 10 downloads." As Ann Bartow's story demonstrates, however, the list is not particularly meaningful. Certain subject areas may have very small readerships. I do not list my own "top 10 downloads" on my c.v. I believe that traditional indicators of influence--e.g., citation in a legal decision, excerpting in a casebook, anthologizing in a book--are more revealing.Thanks, Ann & Anupam! Your posts demonstrate that there's no easy way to measure the effect of someone's scholarship on the field. Instead, we'd have to do much more intensive searches, in part because people use a variety of different ways to circulate their work (articles, books, chapters, blogs, etc.).
And now, two new questions:
(1) Has anyone come up with an easy way to do the more intensive type of search for how and where one's work is cited? It's easy to check for citations in articles and cases, but what about checking for citations in books, chapters, blogs, and other types of publications?
(2) How do we then account for what the late, lamented (at least by me) Spy magazine used to call "Logrolling in Our Time"?
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Just found your new blog via the Feminist Law Professors blog/Law Blog Central, and wanted to say welcome from the Legal History Blog! For comments on rankings (SSRN & others) over at the Legal History Blog, here are a couple of links: Your New Year's Resolution: An SSRN Download A Day, and Chronicle of Higher Ed reports new Scholarly Ranking Service.
Best wishes, Mary Dudziak
Thanks, Mary, and while I'm at it, a shout-out to Chris Fairman at Ohio State, who just emailed me to tell me how to find the "top 10 downloads" when I get one of those "you're in the top 10 downloads" notices. Thanks, Chris!
Friday, January 19, 2007
Here's a related question, as law schools search for new ways to tout faculty scholarship (preferably at low cost): Does your school tout instances of SSRN notification of "top 10 download paper" status? I know that UHLC used to do that (Doug Moll & Jacqueline Weaver each received notices like this), but I don't know what other schools do. Is this something that your school (1) keeps track of & (2) publicizes (a) to internal (law school & university) audiences or (b) to external audiences? Do any of you mention receiving this type of notice on your CVs? Would it matter to you if you received info about "top 10 downloads" from other schools? (And would it change your opinion of those schools, either for better or for worse?)
Thanks--looking forward to hearing from you!
But university presidents do have knowledge that is different from the knowledge that faculty members have (at least in most professors' day jobs--I'm sure that most faculty members know something about, e.g., budgeting and planning because they have to use that type of knowledge to run their own lives).
To critique your analogy, presidents aren't janitors with keys to the building; they're more like the principals, with duties to make sure that the school runs well and stays (gets?) funded appropriately. They're both managers and leaders (which is one of the reasons that it's such a hard job--very few people are good at both managing and leading).
I think that, unless faculty members want to spend the enormous amount of time that presidents spend in meetings, talking with constituents (trustees/regents, faculty, staff, students, donors, etc.), appearing at events, and coordinating the countless administrative departments that keep the university running, there are certain types of decisions to which faculty members should defer, even after providing input.
I wouldn't want some provost or president telling me what to research, what to teach, how to teach, where to publish, when to hold office hours, etc. (although such input is always, well, interesting to hear), because I know more about my field than most presidents and provost do, and because supervising my research and teaching is not the president's or provost's job. I think it's fair to accord the president and provost the same respect in terms of his or her own job duties.
Of course, if a president or provost (or dean) is failing at his or her job duties (and no, I don't think that gaming the rankings is in either job description), then the university's constituencies can go about -- in a reasoned and procedurally fair way -- suggesting that it's time for that person to leave his or her post.
For what it's worth, I also believe that faculty members can provide input but shouldn't micromanage how other staff members (for example, career services, admissions, PR, staff assistants, etc.) do their jobs unless they have the time to understand everything that the staff member is doing and in learning what the staff member already knows about the limitations and possibilities of the job. This reminds me of a comment that I heard in a movie once about having a sense of humor (most people think that they have one, but most people don't). Too many professors think that they understand what a staff member does (or should be doing), but they don't really understand (and probably don't want to take the time to learn).
When I was an administrator, I often got the feeling that professors thought that my job was easy and theirs was difficult. In fact, both types of jobs are difficult, but in very different ways. I just wish that both administrators and faculty could see those differences and respect them.
Does my response answer your question about what I meant?
Universities got started when various scholars, tutoring pupils, began living close to each other so that students could cut down the travel time going from one professor to another. Then the faculty, out of the fees they collected from the students, built a central building. They got donations. They hired janitors to upkeep the building.
The head janitor is now the president of the university, deemed to be someone with greater knowledge than any faculty member or, given Arrow's theorem, smarter than all of them put together. He hires hordes of sycophants, called vice-presidents, who make more than the professors because they, too, are what the university is really all about. Profs are fungible, but a CEO walks on water?
And you want us to defer to these administrators? Are we talking Animal Farm here?
Leighton Professor of Law
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Faculty members are fond of saying that a department chair, a dean, or a president is simply “first among equals.” That phrase connotes the sense that any other colleague on the faculty can second-guess the president’s decisions, even without the same access to information that a president might have. The phrase also connotes the idea that a group of professors should ask the president to stand down when his or her decisions become unpopular.
It would be difficult to imagine someone outside of the academy referring to his boss as a colleague, to be criticized and possibly fired by his employees. But within the academy, some conceptions of shared governance—the principle that allocates jurisdiction over certain matters to the faculty and jurisdiction over other matters to the administration—often get confused with the idea that the roles of a president and a professor are roughly the same.
Make no mistake about it: the roles differ greatly. Many presidents now are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they must work with multiple constituencies, including the board of trustees, the faculty, the rest of the administration, the students, the staff, the alumni, the donors, and any regulatory agencies. Their lives and their decisions are public. We professors, on the other hand, have the luxury of being able to work in places and at times that are most conducive to our own productivity, and when we are done for the day, we can put our work down until the next day. Moreover, if we make a bad policy decision, the buck doesn’t stop with us, especially if we have tenure. The buck, however, always stops with the president, even for decisions that are within the faculty’s jurisdiction.
I'm sure that some of the animosity between university administrators and faculty members lies with the pay discrepancy of the two types of positions. I'm not condoning high presidential pay packages just for the sake of presidential retention—that notion smacks too much of our current problems with CEO compensation—but faculty members should realize that the demands on a university president are different in kind from the demands on a professor.
In reality, a president can be a colleague before the presidency. A president can be a colleague after the presidency. But during the presidency, the president is not a colleague but a leader, with the benefits and the burdens of that role.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
For those of you who want to give it a try and who don't have easy access to the brains and talent of Jim Chen, the Blogger/BEPRESS combo is a handy way to start.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
If we examined whether a school is mentschlekhkeyt or unmentschlekhkeyt, maybe we'd give the school's potential students and potential faculty candidates a more useful picture of the place. Places like Ohio State would, I think, come out near the top. We could reward environments with high standards and nurturing environments--places that model the sorts of lawyer behavior that we want our students to learn. Schools that choose to create some standards for behavior (and those standards must be peer-created, not imposed from above) should, over time, move up in mentschlekhkeyt ratings.
Monday, January 08, 2007
I picked up ballroom dancing first in the Bay Area, fell in love with it there, and started competing seriously out of Sam Sodano's studio in Columbus, Ohio, when I started teaching at Ohio State. When I became an associate dean at OSU, I gave it up due to lack of time. Nine years later, I started from scratch here in Houston. If you've watched TLC's Ballroom Bootcamp, you've probably seen my teacher, Billy King, on TV.
So why dance? First off, it really is a way of reducing stress. When I was having a bad day at work, I could leave the stress behind for a bit while I was taking lessons. When I was frustrated at my dancing, I could take some comfort in the fact that I was enjoying my work. When neither part of my life was going well, I came home and savored my family (cats included) and friends.
Second, dancing gives me an outlet for my love of performing. It's one of the few ways to play "dress-up" as an adult, and it's great exercise. It's not inexpensive, and that's one of the many reasons I consult--to pay for my dancing habit.
Finally, I have a whole set of friends from dancing that I'd likely never have met outside of dancing. Amateur ballroom dancers (which is what I am) are generally friendly, not competitive in the mean sense, happy to encourage others, and interesting. Most of the pro teachers and coaches that I've met have been wonderful to me, and I'm learning a great deal from them. It takes a lot of intelligence to dance well (and more coordination than I have at times).
I visited with a friend recently who works so hard that there's no time for hobbies. I felt the same way for a while, but I learned that I need my hobbies to keep that part of my personality alive. So for me, thank goodness for dancing!
Friday, January 05, 2007
If any of you went to the rankings workshop, I hope you came away with some new ideas. Don't forget to download Andy Morriss's & Bill Henderson's new article, Measuring Outcomes: Post-Graduation Measures of Success in the U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings. I keep thinking that there should be a Law Schools Rated Almanac, just like the old Places Rated Almanac, which took every population microcenter in the country and rated each one according to useful and verifiable categories (climate, health care, crime, recreation, educational institutions, etc.) Although it included a weighted score at the end, the organization of the book also allowed readers to consider their own priorities. (Doing a law school version of the Places Rated Almanac would be a lovely follow-up to my old article, Ratings, Not Rankings: Why U.S. News & World Report Shouldn't Want to Be Compared to Time and Newsweek--or the New Yorker.) The panelists all day, along with the leaders of the breakout sessions, did a great job. And for those of you who think that we should simply use SSRN downloads by author to rank law schools, just remember that Chris Fairman of Ohio State has cornered the market for all time--at least until six more people write articles with George Carlin's other famous words.
Last aside on SSRN for this post: I got one of those nice notes that start off with "Your Paper Makes SSRN Top Ten List." That, of course, led to a 45-minute search for exactly which two of LSN's journals were the journals with this particular list. The email referred to two lists: "IO: Firm Structure, Purpose, Organization & Contracting" and "Structure: Governance & Ownership (Topic)." If anyone knows how to locate the specific places to find those lists, please let me know.
I received that email just shortly before I went into the Section for the Law Dean's panel discussion on "What I Wished I'd Known Before." Not quite sure how far to go, given the context, I alluded to some of what I wish I'd known before, much of which referred to Not Quite "Them," Not Quite "Us": Why It's Difficult for Former Deans to Go Home Again.
My guess is that everyone on the panel came up with many, many more ideas after we'd finished the session. Here are some of mine for folks who are negotiating to become deans, all of which I forgot to say at the session:
- Make sure that your faculty slot is already funded. When I was negotiating the first time around, I didn't realize that there was a chance that my own faculty slot was tentative, based on whether my predecessor dean (who's now the chancellor there) left UNL for other options. Make sure that the budget already includes your own faculty line, or you'll find yourself cobbling together a budget sufficient to pay for yourself, let alone any potential new hires.
- There should be a mix, in the negotiation, of agreements on what your school needs (e.g., more lines, upgraded classrooms, different overhead charges, etc.) and what you and your loved ones will need. You should put your school's needs first, but so many of us (me included) are so excited to be serving as deans that we often forget to ask for what we will need as well. Which leads me to . . .
- PLAN AN EXIT STRATEGY that includes not just what your salary and length of leave will be, but also (a) whether you'll have to pay the leave back if you want to go elsewhere (glad I addressed this one, since I'm off to UNLV after this semester), (b) where your office will be located and what secretarial help you'll get (my uncle did this when he became emeritus, and he was glad that he did, especially as administrators changed over time), (c) what kind of research and travel budget you'll have (Ray Nimmer has been great about this), and (d) what your title, post-deaning, will be (Alex Johnson, for example, has dean emeritus status at Minnesota). And don't forget to plan your days once you leave--this is true for all research leaves, not just leaves for former deans. Time can slip away quickly.
When I was a wet-behind-the-ears law professor in 1992, I was intimidated by the sheer size of the AALS annual meeting, and I hung out mostly with the other two OSU new hires that year, Ned Foley and Kathy Northern. It took me years to get comfortable hanging out in section meetings, let alone to speak at them. Now AALS's annual meeting feels like a favorite shoe, not too worn-in, but not too new.