Jeff Harrison (Florida), Please Don't Dismantle Tax!!:
In my previous post (more here) I praised the new Dean at UF. Someone, perhaps disingenuously, perhaps sincerely, wrote a comment (anonymously) asking me to list what her accomplishments are. ... I responded with a list. ...
[O]ne of my answers was "modernize the LLM in tax." To that I got this — yes, anonymous — comment: "By modernizing the LLM program, do you mean by dismantling it and not hiring outstanding faculty to replace those that are retiring?"
This particular phrasing has been used repeatedly by people who are being manipulated, in my opinion, to fight self-interested battles of those terrified of changing a 50s style LLM program into a 21st Century LLM program to the benefit of all. Some of this has occurred evidently in a mass mailing. In fact, I expect to see T shirts that say "Don't dismantle tax." The ANONYMOUS commentator is parroting a rumor possibly spread, encouraged, and, hatched by people at UF who are afraid of moving forward. ... Riling up students and alums to advance personal ends is pretty desperate.
1. Dismantling: As far as I know there is no dismantling unless that means making the program more attractive and exciting. And, as far as I know, if any retiring people are not replaced it will simply reflect the fact that we do not replace all people who retire because of budget issues. ...
2. Dismantling and not replacing are the same question but let's get real about the LLM at Florida. It is the third ranked LLM according to US News but in some other rankings it is much lower. I believe the Dean is struggling to make sure the US News ranking is maintained despite the loss over the past several years of some true tax stars and a serious case of inertia. As for how outstanding the current faculty is, I cannot say since I do not pay much attention to the area. I am pretty sure there is definitely one outstanding scholar and perhaps more. A rumor is that two others, well-versed in tax, are more or less excluded from being "official" which in both cases makes no sense to me. Just sliding those two over into tax to replace retirements would be a big step. I hope the Dean does this but I am happy to have no influence.
So if there is no dismantling of what is one of UFs highest ranked programs (whether reality based or not) what would be the interest in not hiring the best person possible? If we hire I am sure the sights will be very high and possibly higher than some would like.