Monday, August 19, 2013

In Other News

Apparently Dean Edley has decided step down as Dean effective December 31.  (I got an e-mail from the Alumni Association, the text of which is posted in the EWI thread).  I actually did not know about the Dean's medical issue, but I wish him and his family the best.  I'm hoping he does not turn to cooking meth to secure the financial security of the law school (or acting as the lawyer for meth cooks?).  Jokes aside, it's a bit too early to write the history on Dean Edley's tenure at the law school, but this is the law school that I entered in 2004 along with a freshly minted Dean, who for the first time was not a Boalt insider:

-- No wireless or electrical outlets in classrooms.  If you sat in the front row and had an exceptionally long power cord, you could plug in your laptop to a surge protector.  And the battery power in laptops those days were not what they are today.  You'd see solitaire on people's screens in class. 

-- Chairs would break.  During class.  With people sitting in them.  Torts.

-- Ranked 13th.

-- The law school's website has neat graphs on faculty numbers. Suffice it to say, we've hired some top caliber talent during Dean Edley's tenure, including Interim Dean Lester.

-- The elephant in the room is the increase in fees.  I used to be of the mindset that Dean Edley was correct to try to set Boalt on a path that followed the Michigan / UVA model.  That made sense in an era of one budget crisis after another.  It also made sense in an era of boom law firm hiring.  With the benefit of the economic collapse of 2008, I've been gradually second-guessing the wisdom of that plan.  There is now no legitimate public law school option in California.  I think what really bothered me the most is that we went from a really crappy loan repayment program to a really good loan repayment program funded by increased fees  and donations to a government sponsored loan repayment program.  A large part of the fee increases were earmarked for loan repayment.  If current Boalties are using government loan repayment programs, where's the extra money going?  Deep down, I'm bothered by that.  It's one thing to increase fees knowing that the school will guarantee loan repayment for those who work in public sector / public interest jobs.  If that were the case, the nominal fees would be high, but in terms of actual costs, the school would continue with its core mission of serving as a public law school.  Instead, we are back to square one:  depending on the whims and wishes of legislators eager to cut funding.  I don't get it. 

Regardless, I'm terribly sad to see Dean Edley step down. 

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4 Comments:

Blogger Jackie O said...

The class of 2012, given the gift mid-1L (if my memory serves) of a 20% tuition increase, is likely not sad to see him go. I am not sad to see him go. He was a good fundraiser and had a vision that he carried out, so I give him that. It just happens that his vision was destructive.

I also never saw him interact with (at least large groups of) students in a way that wasn't totally condescending.

But yah, I do like power outlets and wifi, so there's that.

8/19/2013 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Kuru said...

I guess I disagree Jackie. I was in the class of 2011. We saw the large tuition increases and got to spend our entire time at law school in a giant construction zone. We also got to experience some of the worst of the economic downturn. But I don't blame Dean Edley for that.

When Dean Edley arrived at the school, it was literally falling into disrepair. Our facilities were crumbling and we had trouble attracting and retaining good faculty. The state was also threatening to drastically cut its financial support for higher education--a threat it later made good on.

Without making some tough choices, I doubt that our school would have made it through the financial crisis as a great law school. Instead, we would have continued a slow descent into mediocrity.

Finally, I did not find our Dean condescending, though I know some others did. What I did notice was that people would be incredibly rude to him at town hall meetings and showed no interest in hearing his explanations for his decisions. He would eventually get annoyed and let that annoyance show. I suppose he could have handled that better.

So I am sad to see him go and I wish him and his family all the best.


8/21/2013 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I noticed is that when students behaved like children, Dean Edley treated them like children. When they behaved like adults, he treated them like adults. What some people took as condescension, others perceived as valid frustration. Maybe he should have "risen above" or whatever, but Boalt was populated by some of the most whiny, entitled narcissistic students I've ever encountered. Even when the grievances were justified, many in the student body behaved like teenagers.

8/21/2013 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sad to see Dean Edley go. I benefited from summer public interest stipends and LRAP, programs which were significantly beefed up or created by Edley. While increased fees went to support those efforts, so did greatly increased fundraising. I have met a number of Boalt alumni of past decades who said that they never gave money to the school before but have been getting increased asks from the school in the last ten years.

Edley inherited a tough situation: crumbling facilities, an alumni base not accustomed to giving, and disappearing state support. But I'm still pretty happy about my time at Boalt and the state of the school now. I wish you the best, Dean.

10/09/2013 10:15 AM  

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