Thursday, April 05, 2007

Institutional or Self Promotion?

If you are in law teaching you know the biggest job of many deans and the decanal team is to raise money. One of the tools is the “decanal glossy” – the flashy magazine that has no purpose other than to make alums feel happy to be part of the team and to open their wallets. It’s not a bad thing and hardly deceptive. Everyone knows the story. Most law schools have other publications – weekly newsletters, announcements of new hires and visitors, dedication notices. Entire forests die and go to the recycling bin in the interest of this process. Let’s call it what it is – marketing.

The hitch in the process is that there is always a faculty section in which current activities – mostly self-reported – are included. If you are really interested in good marketing, is there a line to be drawn? For example, what if a faculty member is simple quoted in a newspaper. Is that likely to impress anyone? Or suppose someone has said something so silly that potential donors are offended? Does that go in? How about publications in journals that would not impress a single person in the law teaching profession?

It is in the faculty activities section that self-promotion and institutional promotion clash. Is there a danger that a School that treats every possible faculty activities as noteworthy actually begins to look unimpressive to potential donors and law faculty at other schools? I think so. In fact, some of the entries in my School’s multiple publications and that of some other schools carry an underlying message which is: Reader, we assume you are stupid enough or unworldly enough to actually believe this is a mark of achievement.

Many faculty have an unlimited need to self-promote even when there is no “promotion” there. Deans have to decide: Do they want to do impress alums with real achievements or do they dilute the image of their law schools by never saying no to faculty self-promotion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to completely agree that the over-promotion in the end makes the actually big accomplishments look silly. I read FlaLaw every monday and see the same prof's listed as having a quote in this or that paper (I bet a lot of them are simply AP reprints btw). Congrats, you got quoted in the paper...I mean that's something to be proud of when you're not an expert in your field. When you're an expert in the field contribute to the literature and discussion and quit patting each other on the back for a silly quote in the fishwrap!