Friday, September 16, 2016

UF TAX PROGRAM: Messenger Beware and POST SCRIPT

Over on on tax prof blog Paul Caron has dropped the bomb as far as UFs LLM in tax program. He has published excerpts from a very thorough report by my colleague Rob Rhee. The news is not good. If I hang out the dirty laundry of UF Law, Rob has more or less uncovered a nuclear waste site. Since I am always a cynic especially when it comes law professor reports and while I trust Rob and sincerely believe the program is in many ways caught somewhere is the 1950s, I also think the quality of what the program did in its prime was unmatched. So I am not in the mob that evidently thinks law professors should not speak what they see as the truth. Nor am on the side of those who think the Program is dead or have its plug pulled.

On my blog I generally focus on the craziness of the behavior of those who feel entitled -- law profs. This incident appears to have more irrationality that the typical brouhaha. For example, it started with people supporting the program spreading  rumors that there would be changes and making it sound like it would be the end of the program. While doing that they exposed the weaknesses of the program. I think there is a term for this that has to do with pooping in your own nest.

So that got the alums all in a tizzy because the program seems to have a fraternity like shtick going -- great camaraderie, many group photos, lots of glad-handing -- "How is your mother-in-law's poodle doing. I'll never forget that day at the lake."

Rob's report was, as far as I know, initially distributed to tax people. Within a day or two someone -- most likely a tax supporter -- sent it to Paul anonymously. And now the world knows about Rob's report. Sure, it was a public document but, since the anonymous email came from a law school fax machine and only tax people got it first, it appears that pooping in one's nest is too mild an analogy.

But it gets crazier. Now that the word is out, the plight of the tax department is apparently Rob's fault. Or even worse the Dean's because she did not stop Rob. Yes, like she could have ordered Rob to stop his work, which, by the way, I think was prompted by the misinformation already out there courtesy of the nest poopers. I guess she should have stopped that misinformation too.

Wait it gets even crazier. So the response is not that Rob is wrong but that Rob is a traitor. Remember people, these are law professors. As far as I know there are no briefs in the works that disassemble Rob's work. In fact, some of the data amounts to simply counting. Nor does there appear to be an effort to address the ills he identifies -- you know, like cleaning the nest up after the fact.

So far the response seems to fall in two categories. 1) Rob you have been a bad boy as though Rob should have looked the other way when he saw an accident and 2) What poop? Not a productive start to saving what was once UFs star program.

After I wrote this comment:

1.There is on tax prof blog an excellent rejoinder to Rob's report in the comments.
2. There have been calls to fire Rob. For what? Speaking his mind? Sending out a report? My goodness one of the few times a law professor actually makes use of academic freedom and there are calls for dismissal. Jeez!!!


Darryll Jones said...

I assume you mean Omri's response which is fairly snarky and attributes bad motives to Rhee just like most of the other comments you condemn. Fence sit much? But I ain't mad at ya. What disappointed me most about Rhee's comments was not his motives, whatever they may be, but the fawning pitiful elitism. I've only read it once but all he really says is that the LLM program "ain't all what it's cracked up to be." There is nothing in his report about outcome assessments or what those poor "mixed credentialed" (read "mulatto") students might have learned, just "we could be ranked so much higher without the LLM program (and those lowly immigrants they are attracting lately). Yeah, I'm showing my true color, i know. And then the whole "we got us a dean from a top ranked school" dicta really disappointed me -- and reminded me why a graduate of lowly UF could never be Dean at "top ranked UF." Talk about class bias. I get that you feel sorry for the abuse heaped on his head but he ought to understand that playing the rankings game, even disguised as objective analysis, is a search for fool's gold. He deserves the herd stomping for all that rankings worship if nothing else. I bet he once worked hard to discover truth in the law but he is preeminent now and his report just seems so worried that his new environs might be described as merely "eminent."

Jeffrey Harrison said...

I am astounded by your comment. It is insightful, fair, and articulate. So much better than the usual.