Monday, January 08, 2007

Why I love Ohio State (and no, it's not about football)

Ohio State football
I'm not a football person, but I'll be cheering for Ohio State tonight, and not just because I married into a passionately pro-OSU family. I'll be cheering for OSU because the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University taught me a lot about how to nurture collegiality (from a "what to do" standpoint, not from a "what not to do" standpoint). Some lessons that I'll pass along, from my happy time there (1991-1998):
  1. Before someone started there, his or her colleagues created a very positive buzz about the person, especially with the students. ("You should take a course from New Professor X, who's [the leader in the field/comes to us with a strong background/etc., depending on the person's particular background].")

  2. People referred to each other's work in positive ways in the classroom--the work of the "newbies" as well as the work of folks who had been there a while. I can't recall any instances of someone disparaging a colleague in front of students, but I recall a number of examples where people bragged about someone else's achievements in public (even when they didn't particularly like each other privately).

  3. People shared drafts and ideas freely, read each other's work, gave advice about teaching, and generally helped each other out. Mary Beth Beazley, Douglas Whaley & Rhonda Rivera (both emeriti) taught me about teaching, and Barbara Snyder (the incoming president of Case Western) and Nancy Rogers spent time talking with me about the automatic way that students adopt professors as role models. Peter Swire and Debby Merritt (and countless others--I'm starting to run the risk of offending other OSU colleagues by not naming them!) were particularly helpful with my scholarship.

  4. People rotated through courses, even when they had strong preferences, to be considerate of the newest additions to the faculty (what Jim Chen calls "platooning," see here and here)

  5. People were usually civil in faculty meetings, and when they weren't, other people noticed (and didn't like that behavior).
I owe Ohio State a lot for imprinting me with its collegiality, and as Woody Hayes has said, "You can never really pay back. You can only pay forward." That's what I plan to do at Boyd School of Law at UNLV, and having spent time with my new colleagues last week at AALS, I know that I'm joining a faculty with the same standards for collegiality that I enjoyed at OSU. So for this reason alone, GO, BUCKS!

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