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Friday, April 26, 2013

Brooklyn Law School to Permit Dismissal of Tenured Faculty for Lack of Collegiality or Poor Student Evaluations

Brooklyn LogoBrian Leiter (Chicago) reports that Brooklyn Law School's Board of Trustees has adopted rules permitting the termination of tenured faculty for "adequate cause," defined to include "demonstrated incompetence" -- "including but not limited to, multiple unsatisfactory performance reviews or complaints from supervisors; multiple complaints from students or multiple unsatisfactory student evaluations; sub-standard academic performance; lack of collegiality.” Brian notes:

"[T]hese standards are very alarming, and suggest the dangers associated with post-tenure review.  The inclusion of "lack of collegiality" in the definition of "adequate cause" is unbelievable. ... But at least as alarming is the fact that the definition equates "demonstrated incompetence" not with a peer review finding of pedagogical and scholarly incompetence, but with wholly unreliable and disreputable criteria like students evaluations, complaints from supervisors (which just smuggles "lack of collegiality" in the back door), and so on."

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The problem with collegiality is it has no accepted meaning. This kind of thing was historically used to exclude women, Jews, African-Americans, and so forth from employment and advancement. What it really means is, here's an excuse to get rid of people that we don't like, regardless of their performance.

Posted by: michael livingston | Apr 26, 2013 2:26:38 AM

And it uses Student Evaluations. I'm a rigorous teacher so I often get all 9's in knowledge, clarity, and "teaching ability" but I get 1 or 2 in the touchy-feely areas like respects student opinion (ignorance), or creates congenial classroom atmosphere, and book choice. Quality is not necessarily student-friendly. Neither is law practice.

The blind leading the blind. All anonymous, all "gut reaction," and those who are happy check the numbers while those who are not write reams of screed and work actively to taint the entire barrel.

I wouldn't take a job at such a school (wouldn't have to either). Good bye Brooklyn Law School.

Posted by: 30 year Prof | Apr 26, 2013 7:35:01 AM

Brooklyn is probably looking for any reason to dismiss faculty. They have 100 students unemployed and seeking from the 2011 class, and that doesn't even count those employed part time/short term, or in some other form of underemployment. And tuition is $48,000/year! The kicker is that the vast majority of Brooklyn students score 160+ on the LSAT, which means that their prospective students will be smart enough to realize what a terrible decision it would be to attend (unlike, say, New England School of Law).

I'm curious to see how this plays out. I'd guess that they experience a 50-70% (further) decline in applications over the next two years, and will stabalize at a class size of around 175-200 students. That will require enormous budget cuts, which is probably why administration is paving the way for the firings.

Posted by: JM | Apr 26, 2013 7:55:57 AM

"The inclusion of 'lack of collegiality' in the definition of 'adequate cause' is unbelievable."

It's all about locking the door to their clubhouse.

In another time enforcement of orthodoxy would have been called conservative and oppressive. It's still oppressive, but I doubt it's conservative.

Although this may have been an incompetent prelude effort to downsizing the faculty, the school has instead downsized its reputation.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Apr 26, 2013 9:42:23 AM