Quote of the Day - Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
Much has been written about Michael Drake, M.D, and Erwin Chemerinksy, J.D. and the start of a new law school at the University of California, Irvine, and much of it is wrong. There are only two people who actually know the discussions that took place, and those two people have resolved whatever issues they may have faced together and have elected to move forward.
It's time the rest of us move forward, too. MIPTC is disappointed some continue to thrash about, missing the whole point. Disclaimer / full disclosure here: I serve on the UCI Provost's Advisory Committee for the Donald Bren School of Law, so my interests lie in ensuring the success of the school, the UCI administrators, our new Dean and the students who will attend in Fall 2009 and beyond.
Suffice it to say that every law student and law-student-now-lawyer can understand how difficult the transition may be for a law professor to make from the ivory tower to the head administrator's office. We likewise understand that a Dean must work by creating a consensus from many disparate groups. Those already in a position of academic leadership, having successfully made the transition, understand even better than the rest of us. The transition from professorship can be bumpy and can result in signs that call into question the ultimate success of the switch from professor to Dean (read: independent to consensus-builder/administrator). Judgments can also be made too quickly and perhaps not considering the background of the signs.
When Chancellor Drake offered the Deanship to Professor Chemerinsky, the Chancellor wanted the focus on the announcement, cooperation with the administration and building the law school. When Professor Chemerinksy's article came out, free speech was beside the point. Indeed, anyone who knows the two knows, generally speaking, that they share the ideology. Instead, it appeared to Chancellor Drake that as an administrator, consensus building might not be the first agenda. Plus, the two might not be able to work together and there may have been an agenda different than he originally understood. On that basis, the offer was pulled back. When the ensuing but off-topic uproar occurred, Chancellor Drake faced the issue and flew to North Carolina to talk with Professor Chemerinsky. They both spoke openly, resolved the misunderstandings and reconnected, the offer restored. They both addressed the issue, apologized for the confusion and moved on.
Now for some other perhaps overly broad generalizations, but stick with me. I'm trying to make a point apart from the generalizations. Add to the mix above the surprise of many outside the current situation that a professor could be liberal. Huh? Practically every professor I've met on a college campus across the country is liberal. Conservatives tend to go into business, or perhaps its more accurate to say that owning a business tends to make you for the most part conservative. The only other place you typically find conservatives is in government, and then its more a matter of convenience for fundraising than anything else. Just call me crazy. Or cynical.
Apart from all the wild speculation, crazy accusations and uninformed guesses of those who have fervent ideals one way or the other, here's the net result: the Chancellor and Dean-to-be met, reached a common understanding, apologized to one another and (why I don't know) the rest of us. It seems to me whatever issues arose were between them. The rest of us have plenty of other drama in our lives without creating more.
But I guess that's why tabloids sell.
Perhaps with all the folderol, we lost the central focus: let's work with Dean Chemerinsky, his law-professors-to-be, the community and the Chancellor to build the best major law school to open in 50 years.
Imagine. Building rather than tearing down.