Correction on Faculty Hiring and Buyouts
This post, partly apology, is prompted by a request from a law school dean to retract an assertion I made in a post earlier this week, which requires a little explanation at the outset. In Pikettian Law Schools, I noted how different law schools respond to the problems in legal education that arise from decreased demand and persistent high costs. A large number of schools are downsizing via faculty buyouts, I said, while some buck the trend by hiring in surprisingly large numbers.
Readers offered various responses to my suggestion that this mimics the idea that the rich get rich and the poor get poorer, including by suggesting it might be about relative sensitivity to market demand or other natural competitive forces. Some perceived that being listed among those doing buyouts rather than hiring would hurt a school’s reputation while others thought it would help; some seemed to think that hiring is a sign of strength while others thought it a sign of being irresponsible.
Two readers–a professor at one law school and a dean at another–commented directly on the post that I had incorrectly listed their schools as having taken the buyout approach, noting instead that they had actually been doing serious hiring. I promptly responded to both comments and made related corrections in the post.
Thereafter, I received a follow-up request from the Dean of Chapman University’s law school to make a new post retracting my erroneous inclusion of Chapman from the list. I said I would oblige and noted that I would also include his email to me, which is posted below. I apologize for the error(s) in my previous post.
Dear Professor Cunningham,
I am writing to point out an inaccuracy in your April 28 blog entry, Pikettian Law Schools, in which you identify Chapman as a school that has encouraged early faculty retirement without replacing vacancies. With respect to Chapman, this is simply not the case. In fact, this past year, we added four new faculty members, including a significant lateral hire, Lan Cao, who was a Boyd Fellow and Professor of Law at William and Mary Law School before joining our faculty last fall. She is now the Betty Hutton Williams Professor of International Law at the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law.
We realize that errors like this may sometimes occur; however, this type of information can be harmful to a school’s reputation and to its perception by those in the broader academic community. Because of the impact of such an error, I ask that you do more than simply correct your blog. Instead, would you kindly publish a follow-up retraction, identifying this mistake? I fear that simply posting my response will not do enough to undo initial impressions by the vast majority of your readers who will have already read the blog entry.
Dean, Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law