Saturday, December 23, 2006

More on candidates and collegiality--how to tell if the collegiality's "real."

Jim's right about the importance of "platooning" (the willingness of senior faculty members to sacrifice for junior faculty members). Platooning does demonstrate collegiality, as do these other signs:

    The University of Minnesota's College of Pharmacy touts collegiality among its residents.
  1. The willingness to cease fighting battles after they're won (or lost).

  2. The willingness to create safe places for junior colleagues to make mistakes and learn from them. (Safe places to ask for advice, present papers, brainstorm ideas, vent. . . .)

  3. The willingness to experiment without preconceived notions about how the experiments might turn out.
I remember that, when I entered law school, that school was experimenting with Section Bs (one section of Civ Pro was taught by the traditional case book method; section B folks were taught Civ Pro by doing it--completing projects, drafting motions, etc.). After a while, I never heard about section Bs again. But over two decades later (holy cow--has it been over two decades ALREADY???), that same law school is now revamping its first-year curriculum again to give students more of an interdisciplinary understanding of law.

I hope that those folks choosing among offers this year focus on collegiality and the REAL signs of it. No school is completely collegial all the time, but if the community displays the wish of returning to collegiality every time there's a temporary departure, that's a good, good sign.

UNLV Boyd School of LawAnd now a plug for my future school: when I stepped down and started my sabbatical, several people (some of whom are related to me) wanted to know why I didn't want to shop around for another post. The answer is easy: I think I've found a place that has what I want. It's egalitarian in the sense that everyone on the faculty has a say (no caste system here), and it has a number of high-profile, high achievers already. It's one of the most diverse faculties I've seen (bravo to Dick Morgan for assembling such a good mix). It accommodates couples of all stripes. (I've even heard that there are conservatives on the faculty--and I'm looking forward to listening to their points of view.) Most of all, I got a real sense that the worst thing that one could say about the place was that everyone was NICE.

So far, my own observations about UNLV have confirmed that impression over and over. So why didn't I look for a more, um, established school? First off, I like being part of something new. I like being one of the people who will create new traditions someplace--as well as brand-new programs. Second, I'm at the stage at which I want to spend my time writing and teaching. People can find me easily enough at UNLV, and they can read my work on SSRN. It doesn't matter to me what the ranking of the school is; it DOES matter to me what the personality of the school is--whether I believe that the school facilitates synergies among the folks there.

So: offerees, think long and hard about what you want. Do you want support for your work? Encouragement to try (and fail, and try again)? Do you want to limit the number of class preps before tenure so that you can get some of your writing done? Do you want to be with senior colleagues who are still writing, still improving their teaching skills, still engaged? You should spend some time thinking about what you want and what priorities you have on your wish list.

This choice is going to be very difficult for you, so spend some time with friends who can help you sort things out (and spend some time alone). Finally, two more things that might help:
  1. Take a look at the Places Rated Almanac. This book gives info (educational opportunities, recreational opportunities, weather, medical care, crime, cost of living, etc.) for every part of the U.S.

  2. Read Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink. And listen to your gut. It won't lead you astray.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(I've even heard that there are conservatives on the faculty--and I'm looking forward to listening to their points of view.)"

Perhaps you could elaborate on the intended meaning of this sentence. One could draw several inferences from it, some offensive.

12/26/2006 3:35 PM  
Blogger Nancy Rapoport said...

I've been on the faculty at three law schools, and at all three schools, there were fewer conservatives than liberals on the faculty. At one of these schools, the conservative professor tended to be marginalized by some of his liberal colleagues. I'm a moderate liberal who's married to a moderate conservative, and my dad's a full-fledged conservative (so he and I agree on very little). I've found that my conversations w/those on the other side of the spectrum are usually very interesting and civil, and I'm looking forward to a lot of good conversations at UNLV.

BTW, based on my recent experiences with anonymous blogs, I am not particularly comfortable with anonymous postings, unless the person who's anonymous has decided that he or she must do so to protect his or her job, etc.

And although I'm happy to clarify any ambiguities in my postings--and I appreciate your asking for clarification--I know that I can only control my own reactions to ideas--not other people's reactions. What people infer from my postings, they infer.

1/01/2007 6:54 PM  

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