The Wall Street Journal in partnership with the Times Educational Supplement has just released a ranking of colleges. It provides a useful corrective to the more famous rankings by U.S. News and World Report, because it focuses more on the student outputs rather than inputs. That is, while U.S. News heavily weights the credentials of incoming students, such as the SAT scores and high school grades, the Wall Street Journal weights the outputs, like student satisfaction and salaries earned at graduation. This ranking system also appears to take a more quantitative approach to the quality of the faculty, relying less on reputation and more on actual research output.
It would be hugely beneficial for legal education, if this consortium were to undertake similar rankings of law schools. It would undermine the unhealthy power of US News’ ranking of law schools, which, as with colleges, focuses more on student inputs than outputs. For instance, US News’ only reliable student output measures are bar passage rates and employment statistics. These are blunt measures: a job paying $40,000 counts as much as one paying five times much. In any event, they count for only a relatively small part of the total ranking.
It is true that US News also assesses the reputation of the school among judges and practitioners, but that reputation at least partially reflects their views of law schools at the time they were students with the result that there is only glacial change over time. And the reputation of faculty as determined by law professors is similarly backward looking and difficult to change.
As a result, law school deans are more obsessed with student inputs than outputs as the key to improving their US News ranking, even though it is outputs that count for students and it is outputs that educational institutions are in the business of improving.
As described in my earlier post and a splendid Wall Street Journal piece by my colleague Lloyd Cohen, some members of the GMU faculty strenuously oppose the renaming of GMU School of Law after the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and the Faculty Senate has passed a resolution to that effect. The mau-mau artists have somehow managed to convey the impression that faculty opposition includes members of the law faculty. That is emphatically not so. As of May 12, the law faculty unanimously approved a resolution in support of the renaming, and in protest against the GMU Faculty Senate’s shameful agitation. Res…
The following remarks were the prepared text of remarks delivered to the George Mason University Faculty Senate during the deliberations on May 4, 2016 regarding a proposed Resolution by the Faculty Senate that expresses “Concerns” regarding the record $30 million gift received by the law school on the condition that law school bear the name of the late United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. These remarks were co-authored by Professors Todd Zywicki and Lloyd Cohen and delivered by Cohen to the body. The language of the proposed resolution is available here.
The proposed renaming of my law school—heretofore GMU School of Law, henceforth Antonin Scalia Law School—has met with resistance among faculty members elsewhere at GMU. My colleague Lloyd Cohen has described the contretemps and ably defended both Justice Scalia and the renaming decision in the Wall Street Journal.
What of the opposition?