Posted by: mutantpoodle | September 17, 2007

Drake caves, Chemerinsky back – moving on?

uciThe LA Times is reporting today that UC Irvine has resurrected its offer to Erwin Chemerinsky that he be the Dean of their as-yet unopened Bren School of Law.

Which means, in short, that I was wrong.

I had suggested, last week, that an end to Chancellor Michael Drake’s nightmare could only come if he could prove he was a naive kind of dumb, and not the really stupid kind:

Drake’s stupidity- and really, there’s no other word for it – strikes me as the kind of fuck-up that’s almost irreparable. The only thing that might get you out of it is to find a similarly well regarded, more liberal candidate in to prove that it wasn’t about politics.

Or to quit, and let a successor who hasn’t yet proven his or her buffoonery start from scratch.

Drake apparently scratched option B from the list, and called Chemerinsky up. (The ranks of highly regarded liberal scholars being somewhat thin these days, perhaps?) The two have apparently worked things out:

In a statement, Drake and Chemerinsky said: “Many issues were addressed in depth, including several areas of miscommunication and misunderstanding. All issues were resolved to our mutual satisfaction.”

Drake’s decision to dump Chemerinsky last week set off a national debate about academic freedom and sparked a revolt by faculty at UCI against Drake.

Chemerinsky contended last week that Drake succumbed to political pressure from conservatives and sacked him because of his outspoken liberal positions. The flap threatened to derail the 2009 opening of the law school and prompted some calls for Drake’s resignation.

Drake and Chemerinsky said in their statement, “Our new law school will be founded on the bedrock principle of academic freedom. The chancellor reiterated his lifelong, unqualified commitment to academic freedom, which extends to every faculty member, including deans and other senior administrators.”

I’m glad this is being put to bed, and I’ll give Drake credit: standing up and saying that he fucked up – which is exactly what this amounts to – takes courage, and I’m equally pleased that LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich – he who uses taxpayer money to distribute Ann Coulter screeds – will have to stew while the guy whose appointment he tried to derail sets out to build up what will probably be a top-tier law school in very little time.

Just one more thing. The Times repeated Drake’s original assertion that he rescinded his offer to Chemerinsky not because of what Chemerinsky believed, but because he expressed it in a “polarizing” way.

I haven’t read everything Chemerinsky’s written – IANAL, after all – but I do tend to read him when he shows up in the LA Times, and I’ve looked at a few more of his pieces over the past few days. I’d say, based on what I’ve read, that he’s a forceful advocate, but I think the only reason some people find him polarizing is because he has the nerve to disagree with him.

So let me provide a handy little pocket guide, in case anyone gets confused: Arguing that someone is incorrect isn’t polarizing. Telling people that they’re either with you or against you is.


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