Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Law School Loyalty Oath

The UF dean search is winding down with three good candidates still in the mix. Let's hope an offer is made to one of them who says yes.

Now, however, in one of the most ironic twists ever and a herd-like effort to claim deniability, a loyalty oath type letter is being circulated through the halls and even sponsored in a sense by the administration. It's one of those "are you for us or against us?" letters. People are even being called at home to sign.

The letter thanks the committee for its work. Fair enough. Then it goes on to praise the openness of the search and to claim that newspaper reports about the search were inaccurate.

Now lets think about this. In the fall, the Chair of the Committee met with faculty but could have phoned it in. There was no information about the level of faculty participation. No mention of how, when, or where the faculty would be consulted. No mention of how, when, and where faculty would express their preferences. Just silence. And through the weeks no committee member reported anything about the search.

In the weeks that followed, newspaper articles appeared about the search, noting the lack of information, the effort to delete information, and the lack of information about faculty participation.

All of a sudden, faculty were informed repeatedly about meetings, asked to fill out a questionnaires about the candidates, and invited to two one hour meetings to discuss the candidates. They were not permitted to rank candidates but at least could say yes or no on them individually.

I know that correlation does not equal causation but there is no doubt that when the press began to focus on the search the information began to flow and participation increased.

If anything, the letter, rather than condemning the press, should be praising it. Oh, but so many of these folks fancy themselves First Amendment scholars. I must be wrong. Or maybe this is just mass groveling.


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