TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Becoming 'The Nation's Premier Christian Law School'

Pepperdine EquippedMy friend Rick Garnett (Notre Dame) noted on his Mirror of Justice Blog (a member of my Law Professor Blogs Network) that "our good friends at Pepperdine have started to market themselves as 'The Nation's Premier Christian Law School'" and linked to my blog post marking my 100th day as dean.  Rick also wrote:

I certainly agree that Pepperdine is an excellent institution that does a very good job of engaging and meaningfully embracing its Christian character.  I hope, though, that they have not fallen into the old error — and, knowing so many at Pepperdine, I have to believe they have not — of excluding Catholics (and, more specifically, certain outstanding Catholic law schools) from their definition and understanding of "Christian"!  Remember, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (on law)!

I responded to Rick privately that neither of these claims are true.  After an exchange of emails, we agreed that it would be helpful for me to publicly set the record straight so no one is left with the impression that Notre Dame and Pepperdine are anything other than, as Rick put it, "fellow laborers in the vineyard."

On the first point, in the post Rick linked to, I wrote that "our shared goal [at Pepperdine] is to become the nation's premier Christian law school by combining academic and research excellence with a deep-rooted commitment to our Christian mission that welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds."  In my only other blog post on the subject — marking my first day as dean —   I wrote that "I am especially proud to have the support of our faculty, staff, students, and university administration in the ambitious plan I outlined as a dean candidate for Pepperdine to become the nation's premier Christian law school."  Indeed, in all of the speeches I make as dean (including yesterday in San Francisco), I always say that its is Pepperdine's goal (or aspiration) to be the nation's premier Christian law school, not that we currently claim that mantle.

Rick kindly updated his post to say: 

Although (as I hope is clear!) I intended this post as a gentle and affectionate bit of teasing, and not a critique, I should add that in various other places and communications of Pepperdine's it is said that the institution "aspires" or has "aspirations" to be the Nation's Premier Christian Law School. ... Such aspirations are, of course, entirely appropriate and to be celebrated. Those of us who teach at the Nation's Premier Christian Law School welcome the competition!  ☺ (I kid, I kid.)

In my email exchanges with Rick, I discovered that I inadvertently caused some confusion by including in my two blog posts the graphic I use in my speeches (and which is hanging on the wall in my office) to illustrate the journey Pepperdine is on in seeking to be the nation's premier Christian law school.  In my blog posts and in my speeches, I highlight the three planks I ran on to become dean in describing what we need to do to reach that destination:

Pepperdine

The graphic includes a compass pointing north to our aspiration to become the nation's premier Christian law school. 

On the second point, I am of course a huge fan of Notre Dame and the other great Christian law schools, and of the fine faculties at those schools.  None of us at Pepperdine would in any way ever intimate that Notre Dame or other Catholic law schools should not be considered Christian law schools.  Indeed, we have a large number of Catholics on our faculty (in addition to Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh faculty).  Like Rick, we believe we are all "fellow laborers in the vineyard."

Update:  Rick has kindly updated his post:

Dean Caron has written a gracious follow-up post which sets everything straight and kindly concludes:

I am of course a huge fan of Notre Dame and the other great Christian law schools, and of the fine faculties at those schools.  None of us at Pepperdine would in any way ever intimate that Notre Dame or other Catholic law schools should not be considered Christian law schools.  Indeed, we have a large number of Catholics on our faculty (in addition to Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh faculty).  Like Rick, we believe we are all "fellow laborers in the vineyard."

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/09/becoming-the-nations-premier-christian-law-school.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments