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November 20, 2009

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Eric Muller

The photo makes it look like they should rename it the University of Iowa College of Law and Observatory.

Jacqueline Lipton

This seems to be a new trend in dean search processes ie keeping identities of candidates confidential until the last minute before they show up on campus. I'm not sure that I understand the thinking behind it. Is the idea that if people know who they are, smear campaigns may be started before they even get there? That does seem to show a certain lack of distrust/disrespect in the academic community.

Paul LeBel

I've recently made a move from law dean to university Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the same university where I was dean for 5 years (note to others: if this seems like a move you'd like to make, DON'T - being a law dean is the best job in higher education!). I've also chaired a presidential search committee (and am currently chairing a VP for Health Affairs search committee) in a state that is rabidly committed to open records/meetings laws applying to all nominations, applications, and search committee deliberations. I think what we're seeing in law dean searches is the same phenomenon that we've experienced when there is such widespread publicity of interest in the open position. The people who can most afford to be identified as candidates in the process are those who are willing to risk losing effectiveness in their current positions (which pretty much rules out sitting administrators who are enjoying success in their jobs) or those who have made it known that they are actively pursuing a career shift into administration. The result may be that the most likely dean candidates are those who (a) have no administrative experience above the associate dean level, (b) have left or announced an intent to leave a dean job, and (c) are internal candidates. Please understand that to be an empirical observation, not a judgment call that questions the quality of applicant pools that may be composed primarily from those three categories. Nor am I devaluing the critical role of faculty governance in reviewing and selecting academic leaders. The tension may always have existed, but it's heightened when information is so widely shared through electronic social media.

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