Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Arkansas Legislature To Hold Hearing On Renaming Of Law School Endowed Professorship For President Clinton

Following up on my previous posts (links below):  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, All in the Name:

Arkansas Little Rock (2021)The controversy over quietly renaming an endowed professorship to honor Bill Clinton at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Bowen Law School has provided fodder for legal blogs and now prompted a state hearing.

At issue is how in an unannounced change after 20 years, the "Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy" at Bowen inexplicably became the "William J. Clinton Professor of Constitutional Law and Public Service."

Valued readers know the resulting conflict among some on the Bowen faculty has been the subject of two previous columns.

The matter has now led to a joint hearing by the Senate and House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committees, set for 10 a.m. Aug. 10.

The committees requested that Professor Robert Steinbuch and Dean Theresa Beiner of the law school provide testimony and answer questions over circumstances involved in renaming the professorship.

Best known for his staunch and uncompromising defense of transparency in government, Steinbuch told me he believed that the questions raised by his colleague Tom Sullivan in an email Sullivan sent to the Bowen faculty are in need of complete and honest answers.

They include: "Why didn't Bowen's administration announce at a faculty meeting, by email (or in any other fashion) the re-designation of this long-standing professorship in the name of William J. Clinton? Why was this done in secret? ...

"Does the law school's administration believe it appropriate to re-designate a professorship in the name of Clinton given that: President Clinton was disbarred from practice before the United States Supreme Court and suspended from Arkansas courts for five years by plea agreement; he was involved in the mass incarceration of Americans, particularly poor and African American communities; he has a troubling history of allegations over abusing women physically, as well as threatening them to remain silent during his run for the presidency? ...

Finally, Steinbuch seeks to understand what changed in the last year that warranted adding Clinton's name to an endowed professorship without his name attached for 20 years.

Based on what I've learned of the matter, these questions are legitimate and indeed require answers for the administration of the law school to get past this serious controversy and move forward smoothly.

Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee), The Arkansas Law Naming Scandal Continues:

I’m surprised that anyone thought this wouldn’t raise eyebrows, even in Arkansas.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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