Tuesday, August 15, 2017
The Daily Californian, Budget Cuts Hit Berkeley Law After Scandal, Drop in Ranking:
Chancellor Carol Christ’s substantial budget cuts left few departments unscathed last week, and the UC Berkeley School of Law was no exception. The school will cut its number of associate deans from seven to three to increase its budget surplus by almost $1.5 million. According to a draft Boalt Law divisional budget dashboard, in addition to implementing $2 million in cuts, it will have to hit higher fundraising benchmarks and expand its professional and summer programs. ...
The changes come as the vaunted law school emerges from a year of scandal, after former dean Sujit Choudhry resigned amidst allegations of sexual harassment by his executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell. ... As the Choudhry story developed over the course of the year, the law school did its best to weather the headlines. Despite their best efforts, the scandal appeared to leave a mark on the school’s reputation — Berkeley Law dropped four spots in the closely-watched U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law School” rankings.
A drop of four spots was a precipitous fall in a ranking where moving up a single place is cause for celebration. The school also dropped from the top ten for the first time since 2005. Berkeley Law spokesperson Michael Bazeley called the drop “an anomaly” driven by “a year of bad publicity.”
It appears the budget authors had little sympathy for this line of reasoning, as the USNWR ranking drop was the first item cited by the campus as an impetus for greater cuts. ...
But Berkeley Law’s never-ending year of bad headlines does appear to be ending. Dean Chemerinsky is lauded throughout the field of legal education — he was recently named the most influential person in legal education by the National Jurist — and Sorrell settled her lawsuit with the UC Regents for $1.7 million in March (although ex-dean Choudhry still remains on campus as a tenured professor). Yet the new cuts mean that a climb back up the rankings — a key tool for attracting students — will have to be done with a little bit less.