Monday, April 09, 2007

Chisel me Elmo

Sorry to interrupt the USN&WR debate.

We all know the biggest job of many deans and the "decanal" team is to raise money. One of the tools is the “decanal glossy” – the flashy magazine that has no purpose other than to make alums feel happy to be part of the team and to open their wallets. It’s not a bad thing and hardly deceptive. Everyone knows the story. Most law schools have other publications – weekly newsletters, announcements of new hires and visitors, dedication notices. Entire forests die and go to the recycling bin in the interest of marketing law schools.

The hitch in the process is that there is always a faculty section in which current activities – mostly self-reported – are included. If you are really interested in good marketing, is there a line to be drawn? For example, what if a faculty member is simple quoted in a newspaper? Is that likely to impress anyone? Or suppose someone has said something so silly that potential donors are offended? Does that go in? How about publications in journals that would not impress a single person in the law teaching profession?

It is in the faculty activities section that self-promotion and institutional promotion clash. Is there a danger that a School that treats every possible faculty activities as noteworthy actually begins to look unimpressive to potential donors and law faculty at other schools? I think so. I look at the materials I get from other schools with skepticism, completely unable to engage myself in the Matrix and keep thinking in terms of Proflawgate. In fact, some of the entries seem to carry the implicit message that the folks creating this material think their readers are morons. Oh yes, it just knocks me out that Professor Somebody gave a talk to the Young Peacefinders Club. It is honestly hard to believe that Professor Somebody reported this to the Dean's office.

Many faculty have an unlimited need to self-promote even when there is no “promotion” there. Deans have to decide: Do they want to do impress alums with real achievements or do they dilute the image of their law schools by never saying no to faculty self-promotion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I know what you mean. Many of the items listed in my school's weekly newletter are the pinkie rings of legal education.

4/17/2007 12:55 PM  

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