As law school class sizes continue to shrink, whether due to students’ lack of interest in acquiring six figures of debt or law schools “right-sizing” to maintain student quality, something has got to give so there’s enough money to keep the lights on.
But layoffs are harsh, so clearly the next best thing is to politely ask faculty members to purge their presence from the wonderful world of gainful employment in the ivory tower — with some additional monetary incentive to sweeten the pot.
Which law school is asking its
tenure-track faculty members to quit for the greater good?
UPDATE (3/26/2014, 9:30 a.m.): Please note the UPDATE added below.
The school in question is the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, home to some of the weakest arguments for going to law school ever conceived on this earth. We received a tip earlier this week that the administration was planning to slash 10 tenure-track positions due to additional class size cuts. The kicker is that junior faculty members are expected to self-select out of their own jobs — for cash, of course.
UPDATE (3/26/2014, 9:30 a.m.) The law school explained to TaxProf Blog that the voluntary buyouts will not be available to junior (i.e., tenure-track) faculty members.
Now, a tactic like this could work if only a handful of faculty departures were needed, but to expect that so many law professors would be willing to part ways with
the prospect of tenure just isn’t going to work. It seems that Denver Law’s faculty is “quite displeased” with the apparent direction the school is taking.
We reached out to the law school for comment. Dean Martin J. Katz issued the following statement:
The University of Denver Sturm College of Law is committed to excellence in its program and in its students. Like virtually all law schools in the nation, we are seeing a decrease in applications. This means that we must choose between admitting lower quality students in order to fill seats – something we are not willing to do – or reducing our class size. The only fiscally responsible way to reduce class size is to reduce expenses. Accordingly, we will be offering voluntary buy-outs to certain tenure-line faculty as a way to reduce the size of our faculty, and thus our expense base. Our plan calls for us to maintain our current 10:1 student-faculty ratio, which is important to the quality of the legal education we provide, particularly in our Experiential Advantage Curriculum.
This action is forward-thinking and aggressive; it is a proactive response to the shifting landscape of legal education and the need, above all, to maintain quality in the face of declining law school applications and budgetary constraints. Our students, in the long run, will benefit greatly from this strategic move.
It looks as though Denver Law currently has 895 students (732 full-time, 163 part-time) and 96 full-time faculty members. We wonder which law professors, if any, will be the first to take the money and run.
On the bright side, at least those who take Denver’s cash could spend their free time getting high.