I have just heard the sad news that Sacvan Bercovitch has passed away. He was for many years a professor of literature at Harvard (and towards the end of his career he was the Powell M. Cabot professor of literature, which as Wikipedia notes was Perry Miller's chair -- and I'd add Alan Heimert's as well.). And before Harvard he taught at Columbia for many years. Long before I met him I was intrigued by his name (it was a conjunction of Sacco and Vanzetti). And then there were his books American Jeremiad and The Puritan Origins of the American Self, which helped me understand early American literature in a more accessible way than Miller's books. I look forward to posting more tomorrow.
From our friends at the University of Wisconsin, comes an announcement that they're looking for a Vice Provost for Diversity (Chief Diversity Officer). Professor Brian Yandell of the Statistics Department is running the search. The position announcement is here.
I'm posting this a bit outside the expertise of our normal readership. Please share this job announcement with friends who might be interested and qualified.
Although the position description does not emphasize a search focused on candidates with a research interest in law and sociology, regular readers know that Drexel is actively engaged in expanding its footprint in Law and Society. Within Drexel's law school, we have several faculty trained and/or publishing at the intersection of law and sociology. Our politics program is headed by Scott Barclay, a political scientist who is active in the Law and Society community. Consequently, I encourage excellent candidates with deep expertise in law and sociology to consider applying for the position notwithstanding the fact that the field is not separately identified in the job description.
The Drexel Sociology Program expects to hire a new Department Head to lead the development of a newly aligned sociology department at Drexel University. We invite applications for this position at this time.
The successful candidate will hold the rank of Full Professor or be eligible to be a Full Professor and would be expected to begin September 1, 2015. This position continues Drexel's recent investment in the social sciences and its goal of creating a strong research and educational identity for a high profile sociology program at the university.
We are looking for candidates with evidence of innovative scholarship, national and/or international impact, and leadership experience. We are primarily interested in candidates whose expertise enhances one or more of the three current research foci of the sociology program: environmental sociology; medical sociology; or urban sociology. These areas are also central to Drexel's strategic plan, and the candidate should offer a vision for contributing to the university's strategic research initiatives in these areas. We are especially interested in applicants who can show evidence of an active research record combined with excellence in teaching and exceptional leadership skills.
We expect that our new colleague will help define and build the sociology department and participate in and initiate interdisciplinary collaborations across the Schools, Colleges, and Centers at Drexel. Faculty are currently involved, for example, with the Center for Science, Technology and Society, the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, and the Institute for Energy and Environment.
Candidates should include: 1) a cover letter; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) up to three samples of your scholarly writing; 4) a research statement; and 5) the names, institutional affiliation, and email addresses only of at least three references. Please do not submit reference letters at this time as such letters will be requested at a later date for short-listed applicants.
Review of applications will begin November 15, 2014 and continue until filled. Please address all queries to Prof.Kirk Heilburn at email@example.com. All applications must be submitted through www.drexeljobs.com.
Elizabeth Garrett, the provost of the University of Southern California - and a law professor - has been named the new president of Cornell University. She will take over in July. Before joining USC, Garrett was on the University of Chicago Law faculty where she also served as Deputy Dean.
The (expected) news that Florida State Senator John Thrasher has been named FSU's new leader is here.
This was a controversial search. As the Chronicle details here:
The process in which the board selected Mr. Thrasher had been controversial almost from the beginning. In May, the board’s search committee drew protests from students and faculty members by announcing that Mr. Thrasher was the only candidate it planned to interview at its next meeting. In June, Florida State’s Faculty Senate voted no confidence in the search committee’s consulting firm, William Funk & Associates, which subsequently ceased its involvement with the renewed search process.
The no-confidence statement is here. An op/ed opposing the hire is here. The Tallahassee Democrat editorial opposing his hire is here.
According to this report from Inside Higher Education, Steven Salaita - formerly a controversial English professor at Virginia Tech - was offered a new tenured job in the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois. As with most offers, it was conditional on approval from Board. The Board apparently will not even take a vote because Chancellor Phyllis Wise has announced the University will not be presenting his name for a vote. The reason for this sudden change in plans? From Inside Higher Ed:
The sources familiar with the university's decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel's policies in Gaza. While many academics at Illinois and elsewhere are deeply critical of Israel, Salaita's tweets have struck some as crossing a line into uncivil behavior.
For instance, there is this tweet: "At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza." Or this one: "By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic shit in response to Israeli terror." Or this one: "Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already."
Since Salaita did not yet have tenure at Illinois, is this just a case study of why tenure matters? Is former AAUP President Cary Nelson right in backing the Chancellor's decision, arguing:
"I ... do not know of another search committee that had to confront a case where the subject matter of academic publications overlaps with a loathsome and foul-mouthed presence in social media. I doubt if the search committee felt equipped to deal with the implications for the campus and its students."
Please skip inflammatory or non-substantive comments.
UT President William Powers - the former dean of Texas Law - has had a challenging tenure as the head of the university. Recently, the law school has come under harsh scrutiny over the question of whether the school has admitted less qualified applicants for political reasons. Now, according to reports, the University system chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa, has told Powers to resign by next Thursday or face firing by the Board of Regents.
The only news about this story is the specifics . The new University of Minnesota budget includes a commitment of $2.2 million to cover a large portion of the law school's $3 million budget shortfall for next year. (The school is making cuts and adding programs to cover the remainder.) I imagine that this story is being told over and over again at universities across America. We just don't know many of the details.
Kurt Schmoke, who served as dean of Howard Law School from 2002-12 (and was the first African-American mayor of Baltimore, from 1987-99) has been appointed president of the University of Baltimore. He takes over this summer. Schmoke is currently interim president of Howard. He is a former Rhodes Scholar and holds a JD from Harvard.
If you're a university president with a leader like Nancy Rapoport on the faculty, why wouldn't you want to bring her on to lead your signature initiative designed to move your school up in the ranks of research universities?
Outgoing Maryland Law Dean Phoebe Haddon was named the new Chancellor of Rutgers-Camden today. Haddon has served as dean at Maryland since 2009. She was previously on the Temple Law faculty. Haddon takes the place of Chancellor Wendell Pritchett who is stepping down, returning to Penn Law, and becoming Penn's interim law dean.
Rutgers University apparently likes having law professors lead the Camden campus. Pritchett's predecessor was Roger Dennis, the former Rutgers Camden Law dean and our current (and inaugural) dean at Drexel Law.
Last fall, when the University of Vermont (UVM), located in Burlington, and Vermont Law School (VLS), located in Royalton, announced that they were developing a joint degree program, UVM's Vice President for Administration and University Relations explicitly denied that a merger was on the table: "It’s not on the table at all. We're not talking about a merger." But concerns about a merger and relocation—which Royalton residents say would adversely affect the local economy—have nevertheless persisted, and indeed have been rekindled this year. In January, the UVM Board of Trustees convened an ad hoc work group, which last met in closed door session on February 27, "to explore the university’s relationship with VLS." According to Vermont Public Radio, "at least three UVM trustees [who declined to go on the record] have confirmed that the possibility of UVM acquiring VLS outright is one of many scenarios the work group is examining."
Those three trustees presumably do not include Vermont Rep. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge, who cited the possibility of a merger in her decision to resign her position as a member of the UVM Board of Trustees on February 20 after serving just one year of a six-year term. Buxton felt that she faced a potential conflict of interest between her role as trustee, should UVM decide that absorbing and relocating the law school was in its interest, and the role she has held since 2010 as state legislator, where she represents the Royalton residents who are increasingly uneasy about rumors of a merger. Incidentally, Buxton is a 2010 graduate of the law school and, until May of 2013, also held a fulltime position there as assistant director of community relations and alumni affairs. That position, however, which accommodated her annual four-month stint at the state house, was eliminated in May as part of the law school's various layoffs and buyouts amid declining enrollments and Buxton was forced to file for unemployment while she searched for a similarly accommodating job elsewhere. (It's unclear from her Wikipedia page whether she has been successful in her job search.)
In response to the upsurge of merger rumors following Buxton's resignation, UVM President Thomas Sullivan and VLS President and Dean Marc Mihaly released a joint statement implicitly denying that a merger is on the table. They said that "programmatic and academic opportunities between the institutions," including joint degrees and clinical and research collaborations, "represent the full extent of what the two institutions are exploring and discussing." Asked for a more explicit statement about whether a merger and relocation is a possibility, law school spokesperson Peter Glenshaw was somewhat more circumspect than UVM's Vice President for Administration and University Relations had been last fall. "At this time," Glenshaw said, "there is no plan to relocate, and we intend to continue building our strategic academic partnerships with UVM."
The incoming President of Alabama State University, Gwendolyn Boyd, is single. And she has also just signed a contract with the University which provides her housing in a university-owned home. On one condition that is:
For so long as Dr. Boyd is President and a single person, she shall not be allowed to cohabitate in the President’s residence with any person with whom she has a romantic relation.
It's hard to believe someone included a term like this in 2014.
A press release from the University of Iowa describes a forthcoming study of the US News university rankings, with a special focus on the law school rankings. The preview suggests more confirmation than surprises about the effects of the ratings, but their data sets should be very interesting.
An update to my previous update: The Boulder Daily Camerareports that on Wednesday, CU-Boulder administrators met with faculty in a 70-minute, closed-door meeting to discuss L’Affaire Adler and its broader ramifications for academic freedom, and then spoke to reporters afterwards. At the presser, the arts and sciences dean said—for the first time—that the “main concern” with Adler’s course was that “maybe there are cell phone videos being taken or other kinds of videos that would put students in a position where we didn't have consent on these issues.” He explained that “[w]ith any course involving something unusual, like photographing students, we ask for consent forms to be signed. For example, when we photograph someone in a theater rehearsal, they have to sign consent forms for this.” If so, the administration’s decision to send its Office of Discrimination and Harassment to sit in on Adler’s lecture (the Office found the skit to be a “risk” to the university) and the administration’s subsequent statements about the skit possibly constituting a hostile learning environment seem a bit odd, as does its decision to cancel the course for the spring.
Still, this explanation, if we credit it, partly explains why the skit would be of more concern today (and perhaps in recent years) than it was 20 years ago when Adler began teaching the course. The problem (today, at least) is not so much the “post-Penn State” world as the post-iPhone/Instagram world.
As if to prove the administration’s concerns about the dangers that modern technology poses for privacy, someone in the closed-door meeting leaked an audio of it to the Daily Camera, in which associate sociology professor Leslie Irvine called for the provost to resign for falsely “insinuat[ing] that professor Adler is under investigation for sexual harassment” in his Monday email.
During the same not-so-closed-door meeting, administrators told faculty that, “What we know based on our discussion with sociology is that there have been concerns expressed over the years, and unfortunately these concerns have not been dealt with in an effective manner.” The provost said he had (in the Daily Camera’s words) “concrete evidence of complaints from more than one student,” but would not say how many complaints when pushed by faculty.
Two weeks after Wyoming Law dean Stephen Easton resigned due to conflict with the University's president, that president - Robert Sternberg - announced his resignation. The announcement followed a 9 hour Board of Trustees meeting. Sternberg had held the position for about four months. He had previously served as provost at Oklahoma State. One can't help but wonder whether we'll see Professor Easton reappointed in the very near future...
Many of us with ties to the University of Alabama have been watching the unfolding of Tuscaloosa's outrageous school board election story. To put it briefly, incumbent Kelly Horwitz - who happens to be the wife of Bama lawprof Paul Horwitz - was narrowly defeated by Carson Kirby, a darling of local real estate interests, in an August 27 election. And this would truly be mundane Alabama news (moneyed interests defeat the eggheads) but for the fact that Kirby pulled off the win with the support of a shadow University of Alabama Greek organization known as The Machine. (Get a little background on the Machine from this New Republic article from 2002. Or perhaps this Esquire article from 1992. Or even this 1961 piece from the UA newspaper, the Crimson White.) How did the Greeks do it? With party buses, free booze, and perhaps a fraudulent registration or two. Or three.
As media scholars know, editors typically publish news that fits into an existing media frame. News is more recognizable to editors and more compelling to readers when it fits into an existing storyline. And while Greek shenanigans is an existing media frame, it's not really the dominant Alabama media frame. That, as we all know, is race.
Thus, nobody was surprised when the newest example Alabama's unrelenting Greek racial segregation - the universal sorority rejection of an overachieving African-American woman (the step-granddaughter of a former Alabama Supreme Court justice and university trustee, facts that really matter when you're talking about a white prospective) - made it into the NY Times. The news of Greek racism first surfaced on September 11 (all kudos to the Crimson White, which broke the race story). This Greek story made it to the Times on September 12, the following day. It did perfectly fit the Alabama media frame. And two days after that story, weeks after the bad election, the election story surfaced in the Times.
What interests me is that it took the activation of a University of Alabama fraternity misconduct frame, which only appeared (I believe) because of the race angle, before the paper chose to follow through the opening the race story created and published the not-quite-so-fresh school board story two days later. Thus, the media frame effectively inverted the chronology of these two stories. On the Times Facebook line, presumably, Alabama Greeks performed their racism first then proceeded to steal an election.
While that is the opposite of what actually happened on earth, perhaps the timing is irrelevant. This Greek Tragedy is one of hubris and exceptionalism - the endless ability of Alabama Greeks to maintain segregation and treat public affairs as a playtoy. And, sadly, the tale of two hapless administrators - Chancellor Robert Witt and President Judy Bonner - who, unlike those of us sitting in the audience, perhaps do not see their complicity in the unfolding drama.
From our colleagues "down under" (and especially Prof Colin Picker at UNSW) ....
of the law school’s Legal Education Cluster have today launched a new
blog on legal education - “lawschoolvibe”. We believe it to be the first
of its type in Australia.
blog will include short discussions of current issues and news items of
relevance to legal education in Australia and elsewhere. Legal
education in the blog is broadly defined
to include issues relevant to teaching, researching and
Welcome to the law school blogosphere! We're looking forward to the conversations! (And for anyone who hasn't seen "The Castle" and doesn't know how the name of the blog was derived, I highly recommend the YouTube clip.)
SLU President, Rev. Lawrence Biondi, has delivered pay raises to his faculty. That's good news - if you aren't one of his critics. According to the Chronicle of Higher Ed, 25 Arts and Sciences faculty members discovered that the merit raise recommended by their chairs and dean had been sliced. And of those, according the Chronicle, 16 were outspoken oubjectors to the managment of Father Biondi. Nice quotes in the article too:
The chances that those 16 names appeared on the list by coincidence, the professors say, are "less likely than winning the Powerball lottery two weeks in a row."
"You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to see this," said the Rev. Theodore R. Vitali, chairman of the university's philosophy department. "There's a direct correlation between the people who were outspoken publicly against Father Biondi and the people who had their raises reduced."
The University is said to have responded that if Sherlock Holmes had played Powerball, he might well have won two weeks in a row.