Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

More on the Chemerinsky affair

The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog has an update that sheds a bit more light on the subject, and puts Chancellor Drake in a deeper hole than where he was to begin with:

The scandal involving Duke law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who agreed to be the inaugural dean at UC Irvine last week only to see the offer rescinded a week later, spilled onto the pages of the Los Angeles Times today, which ran conflicting op-eds by Chemerinsky and UC Irvine’s chancellor, Michael Drake, over what happened.

The LAT also ran a news story today that quoted an Irvine psychology professor and one of the members of the search committee that selected Chemerinsky to be dean — saying that the chancellor told the committee during an emergency meeting Wednesday night that he was pressured to make the decision by outside forces whom he did not name.

The Times reported that officials leading the launch of the law school said the decision drop Chemerinsky makes it likely the school will not be ready to accept its first class, scheduled for 2009.

In his op-ed, Drake wrote that had made a “management decision — not an ideological or political one” to withdraw the offer. “It was not based on pressure from donors, politicians or the University of California Board of Regents,” he wrote, and certainly not because of Chemerinsky’s left-leaning views, which are “quite similar to my own.”

In his op-ed, Chemerinsky wrote that the chancellor’s decision was an attack on “academic freedom,” and that the chancellor made it clear to him there was outside resistence to his political views, including on the board of regents. (Several regents told the Times Chemerinsky’s appointment would have been approved.)

Meanwhile, the O.C. Register today
reported an interesting tidbit on the affair. Chemerinsky told the Register that two days after he signed the contract to be dean, which was subject to approval by the board of regents, Drake called him to “’say some conservative opposition had developed to me, and we needed to strategize, maybe I needed to plan a trip out to Orange County.’”

Irvine’s academic senate met on Thursday afternoon and peppered Drake with tough questions about whether the decision to rescind the offer was due to outside pressures, which he denied, the Times wrote. Several faculty members have called for Drake’s resignation and the senate is considering a formal statement against the chancellor, according to the Times.

The New York Times also weighed in with an
editorial calling Drake’s decision “disgraceful” and asking that he extend the offer to Chemerinsky, “one of the shining lights of legal academia,” again.

Drake tells the search committee that there were outside pressures, but he tells UC-Irvine's academic senate that no such pressure existed. So, which is it? Was there outside pressure, or wasn't there?

Chancellor Drake is sitting on a sinking ship, and the regents at UC-Irvine are owed some answers here, especially since several regents contacted the LA Times to inform reporters that they would have approved of Erwin's presence as the dean of the law school. Chancellor Drake needs to come clean with the board of regents.

I'm sure there was pressure applied to him from outside sources. He only needs to acknowledge that to the regents, and explain why that pressure outweighed their input. Additionally, I agree with the regents if they call from Chancellor Drake's resignation. That should have come the moment this story broke. This was no way to start off the new law school, and his decision, as the Law Blog notes, might very well jeopardize the launch of the new law school.

Publius II


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