Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Help! My Dean Won't Let Me Blog

The handful of you who come to this blog may wonder why I have not been blogging (although I am sure my anonymous internet stalker is probably relieved).

It's my Dean. I used to have a nice hobby bitching about one thing or another. You know, stuff like getting a big payday for pimping out the students, side deals for everything from teaching a course to taking on the huge responsibility of being a Center Director when there are only about 8 students who care what the Center is doing, foreign programs for the privileged, vanity courses, and the "not technically a lie" culture.

Now I cannot write about those things. Why?? It's my Dean. Yes the old dean who tolerated, supported, and encouraged all that stuff  I complained about is gone. And, now we have what I would call the "opposite dean." She could not be more different than old dean and it appears (actually it is blatantly obvious) that she feels that -- get this -- the Law School does not exist to serve faculty interests, financial and otherwise. Instead  faculty are mere means for providing the best legal education possible, writing the best scholarship, and doing everything possible to find employment for the students. Yikes. We are so not used to this. She is also willing to take risks. Now, I know law professors reading this will not be familiar with the concept of "risk" but I assure it takes confidence and courage.

And where does this leave me? Did she consider my blogging? I was not even consulted about how much the changes would affect me.

I might note that other than the things listed above, I also ranted about the use of claims of incivility, uncollegiality, poor people skills, and "I am offended" as ways of silencing people when, in actuality you just did not like the substance of what was said but had no response other than one that would reveal you were greedy, looking out only for yourself, and had a Everest-sized sense of entitlement.

Unfortunately I may be able to keep blogging on those topics because change worries people and, when it does, the knives, distortions, and group whining appear.


Nando said...

The Gainesville Sun published a Jeff Schweers article entitled "UF names Laura Ann Rosenbury as dean of law school" - back on April 27, 2015. From that piece:

"UF law professor George Dawson will continue to serve as interim dean until Rosenbury can begin July 1. Her starting annual salary is $350,000.

“She is an outstanding scholar and has visited at some of the most prestigious law schools in the United States,” Dawson said in a prepared statement.

The search committee members were charged with finding someone with strong vision and academic background and also placed a high priority on diversity."

A white woman with a AB and JD from Harvard, who spent two years in federal court clerkships and only three years in private law practice before running to academia. Yes, they busted their asses looking for "diversity." Then again, this Ocala Star Banner story, from August 15, 2015, notes that Rosenbury will bring a feminist perspective to the school. Hell, it's even in the headline. I guess shutting down dissenting voices - and throwing one's weight around to keep faculty members in line - falls under the banner of feminism.

I don't see anything showing that she cares about law students and recent graduates being strapped down with huge sums of non-dischargeable debt - or the fact that ABA-accredited law schools/diploma mills collectively pump out far more grads than there are available lawyer positions each year. Apparently, that is the students' problem.

At any rate, thank you for being one of the relative few law professors who has addressed these issues. By the way, any academic who asserts that law schools are not run for the benefit of faculty - instead of students - is willfully ignorant, dishonest, or completely out of touch with students.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

You know that I cannot disagree with your assessment. I can only say that, the newspaper carries the usual description of credentials. In action and after have been through 8 deans this is the first one I have seen who has tried to change things and who follows the plight of our students on a day by day basis. It will take time for it to show because, for one thing, faculty resist change of virtually any kind.

Fred said...

I didn't really understand why having a new dean means you've been blogging less. Are you saying that because there's a new dean now the stuff you usually would blog about is no longer occurring, i.e. you have nothing to blog about? If that's the case, then I think you've been too focused on old news. There's still plenty of new developments to bitch about.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

Actually Fred, there is a great deal of bitching but mainly by people who have found that a dean who really wants to improve the school understands that it is has been out of control for ten years and captured by the faculty for self-interested ends. In fact, since you never identify yourself, I assume you are one of them. I am not saying I agree with every thing she has done but she is beyond a breath of fresh air in terms to turning the school around. She is asking faculty to do more and to be accountable. I am on her side and the only bitching I would do is about the people resisting change.

Anonymous said...

So, really: Its a cushy gig living off student loan cash and actually getting a real job would be far worse, so you've decided to go with the scam and keep your head down.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

That may overstate it just a bit.At my school now the job got a lot less cushy I am happy to say. I know it is a small step but law school capture by faculty has always been my main beef.

On the scam matter, it has changed its form. The old scam what not revealing that many grads could not get jobs. The word is out and now I would say that prospective students know the risk. The part of the scam that continues is admitting students with lower and lower qualifications just to keep enrollments up. There not much I can do to promote the closing of, say, the 100 lowest ranked schools.