Monday, December 15, 2008


Theft by Princeton

Princeton seems to have been stealing from the Robertson Foundation on a large scale. The Robertson heirs sued, and in a settlement they have been given 40 million dollars in legal fees and 50 million has been put into a new foundation. The complaint is worth recording. Of interest too is this statement about other abuses by Princeton, from page 16:

In 2002 and 2003, a Princeton employee named Jessie Washington conducted an investigation of donations to the University's Office of Religious Life and concluded:...

During my review of endowment accounts for the office of religious life, I discovered many problems with the management of the university's endowed funds. ... (T)hese problems affect every unit in the University that relies on endowment income.

2/20/03 Washington memo to Kalmbach and McDonough. Her Summary of Findings states:

I believe: 1) funding allocations are not in alignment with their intended purpose, i.e. the donors wishes have been ignored; 2) money intended for religious life -17- 925226.1 11/11/04 has been knowingly withheld;...

As one example, a $5,000 gift to maintain a chapel organ was used instead, according to a handwritten note, "to relieve general funds." Id. at Example 2. Another handwritten note states: "Dept. is not to know."

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Sunday, December 14, 2008


Questions for Theorists

From Econjobrumors, on a thread on the worst econ fields to be a candidate in:
From the hiring side: The problem I see with many pure theorists (i.e. those who do not use any data) is the lack of connection between the research and any real-world issues. A lot of job applicants to my department and graduate students in my department have a difficult time answering (a) why is this relevant/important?, and (b) how would I know if you were wrong? If you are a theorist, you'll do yourself a favor if you can answer those questions.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008


The BFC "Support the troops" resolution of 2003

Here is reprinted a 2003 weblog entry, plus some new BFC material I found.

Chancellor Brehm was helpful when the Bloomington Faculty Council passed a resolution on the War in Iraq last spring. Let me recount that, a good practice when annoyed by someone. I suggested a "support the troops" resolution to BFC President Eno, who gave me the good advice that he didn't think it would have much chance of getting through with a strong enough vote to make it worthwhile. I asked him for an example of someone who he thought would probably be opposed, and he suggested Professor Marsh. She took my idea seriously, and rewrote my draft completely, but in a way that satisfied both of us:

As in any democracy, a wide diversity of opinion exists among the faculty of Indiana University, Bloomington, concerning the War in Iraq. However, we wish warmly to extend our sympathy and support to those men and women whose lives are caught up in this conflict:

First, the members of the IUB community -- students, staff, and alumni -- currently serving in Iraq. We commend their devotion to duty, grieve for their losses and those of their families, applaud their attempts to limit injury to innocent Iraqi civilians, and wish them a safe return to their country.

Second, our thoughts go out to those thousands of innocents in Iraq -- men, women, and (above all) children -- whose lives, homes, and families have been lost in or damaged by this war. We hope humanitarian aid may be speedily and generously delivered for their assistance, and wish all luck to those members of the extended IU community who are involved in that effort.

Third, we think also of the Arab and Iraqi students on this campus and on campuses across America, and of Arab- and Iraqi-American citizens of all kinds, for whom the conditions and precautions of war have created distress. We hope that our country will maintain its tradition of tolerance and respect for all.

I told Chancellor Brehm that we'd like to introduce the resolution if there was time at the end of the meeting, but that if it looked like it would get bogged down in discussion, we wouldn't pursue it. Since this was the last meeting of the year, with a heavy agenda, and this resolution was a last-minute idea, she could quite fairly have killed it simply by not giving it any time. But as it turned out, there was five minutes free at the end of the meeting, and the resolution's wording was acceptable to pretty much everybody (I think maybe there were some helpful minor changes, but everybody was in a cooperative spirit).

The lessons?

  1. Even liberal professors who opposed the war were willing to say nice things about American troops.

  2. It's possible for a local organization to write a sensible resolution that touches on foreign policy. Note that we kept everything tied in to Indiana University, the idea being that such a resolution was appropriate because the war was having a significant effect on some members of the University. We weren't trying to make foreign policy with the resolution.

  3. It's possible for people with drastically different political viewpoints to work constructively together. I am very conservative; Professor Marsh is, I gather, much to my left, as Chancellor Brehm and most of the BFC probably is, but we came up with a worthwhile resolution anyway--one that was not even just a compromise, but that very different people could sincerely support in all its parts.

Reading it again, the resolution looks even better than it did at the time, since it turns out that our soldiers are spending more time helping civilians than they did fighting the enemy.


Here's what the April 15, 2003 Minutes say:

(Professor Eric Rasmusen)

BREHM: Now, Eric, that leaves you 10 minutes.

RASMUSEN: Okay, well that’s all I asked for. This is something that either we do quickly or we don’t do at all. And either is fine I guess. I was thinking it would be nice to have some kind of resolution on the Iraq situation. Not one on policy, which isn’t our business and could take a lot longer than 10 minutes but something in support of the IU people who are involved. And I’m passing around now a resolution to that effect and I’ll read it in a minute. I wasn’t going to bring it up at all if we didn’t have much time. If there’s a lot of opposition we’ll just table it and not consider it. It’s meant to be non controversial and if there’s a lot of changes to wording people want we’ll also have to just ditch it.

But, I’ve mentioned this to Bob Eno and he said if this is controversial it will take too much time. And I said, who’s somebody who’s likely to be very opposed to the war? And he said, and you might not like this, Joss Marsh. Sorry Joss. So I went to her and said is there any kind of language you would support and she came up with basically this resolution and I’ve made a couple more changes. So we’ve got two votes for it. If we find that ten people don’t like it and need more discussion, then we’ll just wait until the next war. But I’ll read to you what we have now. This is meant to be something very IU oriented, so we would like to have as many names of individual people over there as possible and I’ve talked with the Registrar’s Office, they found from the Department of Education that they have permission, they do have permission to tell us which students are over there, but they wanted to have the lawyers look over the resolution first. So, where there’s XXX, YYY would be for whatever names of people we could get. Also we would put in whatever staff members we can get. The University doesn’t really know, doesn’t keep track of that very well. I’ll read this. Shall I read it out loud? Probably the best thing to do.

“As in any democracy, a wide diversity of opinions exists among the faculty of Indiana University Bloomington concerning the war in Iraq. However we wish warmly to extend our sympathy and support to those men and women whose lives are caught up in this conflict. First, the members of the IUB community, students, staff and alumni currently serving in Iraq. We know this group includes—and we’re going to insert names—as well as the others. We commend their devotion to duty, grieve for their losses, for their families, applaud their attempts to limit injury to innocent Iraqi civilians and wish them a safe return to their countries.

Second, our thoughts go out to those thousands of innocent in Iraq, men, women and above all children who’s lives, homes, and families have been lost in or damaged by this war. We hope humanitarian aid may be speedily and generously delivered for their assistance and wish all luck to those members of the extended IU community who are involved in that effort.

Third, we think also of the Arab and Iraqi students on this campus and on campuses across America and Arab and Iraqi citizens of all kinds for whom the conditions and precautions of war have created distress. We hope that after hostilities cease our country will maintain its tradition of tolerance and respect for all.”

BREHM: Yes, Deidre?

LYNCH: I really appreciate the spirit of this but I’m very worried by the language of after “hostilities seize, we’ll maintain this tradition of tolerance and respect for all,” meaning that we won’t maintain it while hostilities are ongoing? Do you need the “after hostilities” why not just “that we hope that our country will maintain its tradition of tolerance and respect for all”.

RASMUSEN: That very good. Friendly amendment that I accept.

BREHM: Would someone like to move?

CARR: So moved.



BREHM: We have, it’s been moved and seconded. All of those in favor of the statement with the friendly amendment? Yes, Moira?

SMITH: Not a friendly amendment, just an editorial thing in the third paragraph, the third line where it says grieve for their losses and for their families, I think we need to say, “grief for their losses and those of their families.”

BREHM: Okay, all those in favor please signify by raising your hand.

BOBAY: I got 34.

BREHM: All those opposed [none]. Abstentions [3]? The motion passes. Not hearing any objections, I’m about to adjourn us for this year. However, we’re not really adjourned because you are all invited to my house and I hope I’ll see you very shortly. So we are sort of adjourned. Thank you very much.

I don't know, by the way, if the names ever did get filled in,a nd whether the resolution was publicized for quietly put away to hide, which is a standard way of getting rid of something one doesn't like.



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Thursday, November 20, 2008


The Value of Human Life in Pennsylvania

It seems economist Rafael Robb has gotten 5 to 10 years in prison for killing his wife. He gave a talk here a couple of years ago, and did seem a tough guy-- is he the one who was an Israeli paratrooper? In any case, I expect he will be a model prisoner and be out after 5 years. As an economist, I can see then that the value put on a human life by the Pennsylvania state government is a 5-year prison term.

He admitted he "just lost it" during an argument that erupted at the couple's Upper Merion Township home in December 2006. Ellen Robb had been planning to end their 16-year marriage, and her husband feared he would see less of their daughter and possibly suffer financially if they divorced.

I wonder if Professor Robb has gained financially, overall? He has lost 5 years of salary completely, plus a hard-to-estimate reduction in future salary. He will lose his tenure at Penn, but he can get a job somewhere else-- he's a good economist, and he can keep publishing while in prison-- indeed, he will have more time for research, and he's a theorist, so lack of RA's, computers, etc. won't hamper him. He has gained alimony he would have had to pay-- say, 20% of income for a 30-year period. He has also gained his half of the household assets-- perhaps 6 times his annual income.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008


A Community College Political Correctness Story

From a VC comment:

Since we are telling college stories.

I started school at a community college and transfered to a four year. While at the CC, I did a paper on the different types of rape. At the time, womyns groups were pushing different types from actual unwanted sexual contact to my favorite--a woman is in the area of a man and without saying or doing anything he thinks of her as a sexual being without consent (psychic rape).

I did a paper for criminal justice class I was proud of, breaking the subject down into five types, and got an A. I buffed it up and turned it in for english comp, too. I got an E, and in front of witnesses the professor accused men like me of being the reason women get raped.

I appealed, and the dean stated the paper was of poor quality. Other profs suggested requesting a formal hearing in front of the college president with the class called as witnesses, I did make a request and the dean excused me from the rest of the class and gave me an A.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008


Textbooks versus Packets

I'm planning my courses for next semester. Textbooks cost a lot. Viscusi, Vernon and Harrington's regulation text costs $88, which is typical. Are they worth it? Yes, probably. The cost of me, the professor, and the time cost of the students is much higher, and a good text is valuable. But there is one big problem. Students don't keep their texts. They resell them. This loses them one of the most important parts of their education. If they realized this, they wouldn't sell them, even at the current high prices, but they don't. It might nonetheless be important. If I assign them a packet of readings instead, will they keep the packet? If they do, maybe that is enough of a teaching improvement that I should do it.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Chicago Faculty Opposing Its Friedman Institute

Here are the signers of the letter opposing the Friedman institute at Chicago. Fred Donner and Marshall Sahlins are the only names I recognize.



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Monday, June 16, 2008


Cambridge v. Patten

Justia has the complete collection of documents for Cambridge v. Patten, the case where Cambridge and Oxford's presses are suing Georgia State for copyright infringement. I've read the complaint. Georgia State lets professors post readings for their students, and gives them very liberal Fair Use guidelines. The presses are objecting even to single chapters being posted that way. Some interesting bits:

1. The presses are suing university administrators personally, as well as the organization.

2. The presses are not asking for any damages, just costs. The main thing they want is declaratory relief and an injunction.

I think the presses should win by law, though the law is very bad.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Male and Female Majors at Yale

Dan Gelerntner at Yale has a weblog post listing the most male and the most female majors at Yale. It's interesting that Music makes the male list, and history of science and cognitive science make the female list.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008


ABA Threatens GMU with Loss of Accreditation

Gail Heriot has a shocking WSJ op-ed telling how the American Bar Association forced George Mason Law School to admit unqualified applicants in order to retain its accreditation--- and thus its access to federal funds. Racial discrimination of this kind has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court, so the ABA is acting illegally. Is there a suit to bring?
If you have ever wondered why colleges and universities seem to march in lockstep on controversial issues like affirmative action, here is one reason: Overly politicized accrediting agencies often demand it.... In 2003, the ABA summoned the university's president and law school dean to appear before it personally, threatening to revoke the institution's accreditation. GMU responded by further lowering minority admissions standards. It also increased spending on outreach, appointed an assistant dean to serve as minority coordinator, and established an outside "Minority Recruitment Council." As a result, 17.3% of its entering students were minority members in 2003 and 19% in 2004. Not good enough. "Of the 99 minority students in 2003," the ABA complained, "only 23 were African American; of 111 minority students in 2004, the number of African Americans held at 23." It didn't seem to matter that 63 African Americans had been offered admission, or that many students admitted with lower academic credentials would end up incurring heavy debt but never graduate and pass the bar.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Pattakos Free Speech Scandal at Northwestern Law School. Yet another example (from 2007) of a law school punishing unorthodox speech. Or, perhaps, for not giving patronage to minorities in this case. It's curious how law schools, with their worship of the abstract concept of Free Speech, so commonly suppress it.

There is a useful thread of emails posted. From Student Bar Association President Peter Pattakos, who was intimidated into resigning:

I have only resigned my title because the administration and the SBA Executive Board have forced my hand. The SBA Executive Board and school administration asked me to step down as SBA President with only a month left in my tenure, largely because I have expressed beliefs that are unpopular with some members of our community. Some think that my expression of these beliefs makes me unfit to perform the duties of my office. I disagree with those who have asked me to step down, and initially refused; offering instead to accept a dramatically reduced role in the SBA's decision making process in recognition of the impact of my expression of these beliefs. The administration and Executive Board did not accept my offer. I was told that if I did not step down the administration would have stripped me of any official duty that it could strip me of - they would cease meeting with me as SBA President, and would have prohibited me from representing the school at graduation, law board meetings, admitted student weekend, and other events where the SBA President traditionally plays a role. In addition, the administration would have released a letter to the public explaining these restrictions - and describing my words (discussed below) as "derogatory remarks." Cliff Zimmerman [faculty administrator] showed me two different versions of this letter; the version to be released if I stepped down being significantly kinder in its wording. The administration reached its conclusion to take this course of action without once bringing me, the Executive Board, administration members, and complaining parties into the same room. Finally, the Executive Board would have conducted a plebiscite on whether I was fit to hold what would have been left of the office of SBA President - the title. Given the costs of going through with this process, it should be clear that I have only "stepped down" from my position in the most technical sense.

To provide some background: There was a breakfast last Thursday with Chief Justice Roberts to which a number of academic and student-government leaders were invited. The administration asked me to recommend a list of 10-15 "academic and community leaders" to attend this breakfast. The administration had the final word on the invitees; this should be obvious given the nature of the event, the addition of 10 students to my initial recommendations, and the fact that my recommendations had to be cleared with the administration. I was never told that the intent was to invite the leaders of every student organization. The students at that breakfast were an undeniably diverse cross-section of the Northwestern Law community. These students were invited not as racial representatives, but because of their leadership on the law journals, in student government, and in student organizations with leadership positions open to members of any ethnicity. Nonetheless, the leader of one of the ethnicity-oriented student groups - a person I have always considered a friend - shouted me down in the Atrium for overlooking the leaders of these groups. He told me that I took the opportunity of a lifetime away from him. I should have walked away. I had been up the better part of the previous evening and early morning answering student complaints about the invitation list, and had continued to field such complaints throughout the day. During what can only be described loosely as a conversation, I stated my belief that our community would be better off if all student organizations were organized around ideas, and not ethnicity. It is this off-hand remark that is the primary justification for my being forced from office.

I've omitted the rest of his email, which consists of musings about free speech and grovelling humbly for having dared to question the orthodox position.

The postscript is useful, though:

* The complete list of students that I recommended for the breakfast: The SBA Executive Board and 1L Rep, Law Review board members, 2 Editors-in- Chief of academic journals, Federalist Society President, Fed Soc Board Member who has been exceptionally active on SBA Committees and in SFPIF, ACS President, STMS President. After two students responded that they could not attend, and in response to concerns that only two 1Ls were included in a group of 28, I recommended two 1Ls active on SBA and in student organizations. Of my 18 recommendations, at least 6 were of diverse ethnic background. The administration approved ALL of these recommendations in addition to inviting at least 10 students without my recommendation.
The `` person I have always considered a friend'' who got Peter in trouble is unrepentant about doing so, and still miffed that he didn't get to have lunch with the judge. He is Latino group leader Kevin Strom:

I'm saddened by your comments. You and I both know that is not why I was upset about the invite list. I did not say that you took an opportunity of a lifetime away from me. I said, while describing the impact of your decision, that it was not a small event, that it was the chance of a lifetime for anyone to go. I wrote down the conversation you and I had shortly after we had it, simply because I knew this might come up, and then I confirmed it with a respected 3L who was standing by during our conversation.

Here is what I have:

After Chief Justice Robert's speech to the general student body Thursday, the President of the SBA approached me during the reception. He was unaware of many of the complaints and meetings that he had sparked. He was unaware that I, and many others had spent the majority of the day with Cliff and Audra because his actions were a reflection of the administration. He asked me how I was doing. I said, "fine." He asked if I was sure, because I seemed upset. I told him that was probably not the best place and time to have this discussion. When he pushed on, I told him that I believed the way he handled the selection of "relevant student leaders" was ridiculous and unacceptable. He defended his actions saying that he chose the most relevant groups based on who would impress CJR. He said it didn't matter because "we impressed him" and the breakfast went fine. I asked how he could ignore a group like BLSA, during Black History Month, with such a huge student base, and an entire month's worth of programming. I asked him how he could ignore LLSA, another group with a month of programming that won Best Student Group of the Year last year, how we could be less relevant.

His response blew me away:

"I would dismantle all of your groups. If it were up to me there would be no LLSA, BLSA, Salsa and Apalsa, because they don't bring anything to the community, and they contribute to racial identity politics." He kept going, telling me that he doesn't get caught up in racial politics and doesn't believe in race based groups.

I responded by telling him he was doing a *'super'* job of representing the students he was elected to serve. I told him he couldn't separate his political views from his Presidential role, and those views shouldn't affect the decisions he makes on behalf of us. This is especially true when the administration makes the error of allowing one student to make unilateral decisions as to who should attend an intimate breakfast with a figure such as the Chief Justice of the U.S.

To the student body: That is what happened between Peter Pattakos and I the night the Chief Justice spoke to the student body. I was not going to publish this information to the listserv, if you've seen my personal email to the Latino Law Student Association, you know that I toned down my words and paraphrased Peter when describing what transpired. I've included that email below. Obviously the administration and SBA felt that this, along with Peter's other actions in the past month warranted removing him from the board, or at least stripping his ability to speak at any events. I'm available to answer any questions.


Kevin Strom

The SBA student leadership wanted to fire Peter too, even without faculty pressure perhaps:
In light of recent events at Northwestern Law, the SBA Executive Board has asked Peter Pattakos to step down from his role as SBA President, and he has agreed to do so, effective immediately. ... Let's hope that we all learn from recent events and continue to strive to make our law school more accepting and more open.
Dean David Van Zandt and administrators Cliff Zimmerman, Audra Wilson, and Don Rebstock wrote a letter about ``Peter's decision to resign'':
Dear Students, ... Student groups are given great latitude to create programming and opportunities for their respective constituencies and the community as a whole; students are also given wide latitude and responsibility to pursue these activities with the support of, rather than intervention by, the Law School. However, when actions undermine the Law School's mission or values or cause harm, the Law School must weigh the value of student autonomy and responsibility against the necessity to counter those actions that compromise our efforts to maintain a diverse, collegial, and supportive community.

We have investigated the chain of events which led to the omission of several student group leaders from last week's Student Leadership Breakfast with Chief Justice John Roberts. While part of the problem was administrative in nature, that mistake has been overshadowed by Peter Pattakoss subsequent comments that dismissed the value of the organizations of the uninvited leaders. Having acknowledged the serious affront to the student leaders in his comments, Peters decision to resign is the right one for himself, for the SBA, and for the Law School.

The student newspaper has the Administration claiming it had not ``played any role'' in forcing Pattakos to resign:
Both Dean Zimmerman and Director Wilson denied that the Administration played any role in forcing Mr. Pattakos to resign. Dean Zimmerman said that he simply informed Mr. Pattakos that he would not be asked to speak as a representative of the school. Although historically the SBA president has spoken to the Law Board, at Diverse Admit day, at Day at Northwestern, and at Graduation, these speaking opportunities are at the discretion of the administration....

Although Director Wilson and Dean Zimmerman both admitted that the substance of Mr. Pattakos' comments warranted further discussion, neither was yet sure how.

"We need to move forward together in a constructive way," said Zimmerman. "But I am still talking with several groups, both student and administration, about how best to address this issue."

"If we can't have candid talks about race and ethnicity, our commitment to diversity is hollow," Wilson said. "But we need to have the discussion with civility and tact."

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