June 17, 2011
MONTANA LAW SCHOOL DENIES ITS MOST PROMINENT SCHOLAR EMERITUS STATUS? Seems rather petty, and certainly nothing that will enhance their academic reputation. One wonders if this pettiness will redound to their benefit in future budget discussions. Will the electorate think that work on original intent scholarship is so outside the mainstream that a scholar who does it shouldn’t get the usually routine grant of emeritus status on retirement? Or will it think that the University of Montana law faculty is out of touch with mainstream views, and perhaps less worth of taxpayer support than was previously believed? At any rate, while faculty governance is a nice thing, it seems that in many places faculty members are exercising it in ways that are likely to be self-defeating.
UPDATE: Some people are wondering why this is a big deal. Well, I’ve never heard of somebody being denied emeritus status on retiring. Maybe it’s happened somewhere before, but it’s very unusual. And maybe Natelson is such a disagreeable fellow that this isn’t about politics, though I’ve never heard that. It just seems very odd, and if I were a faculty or dean candidate it would certainly make me want to know a lot more about what was going on. It just seems very petty and mean.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers point out that Bill Ayers was denied emeritus status. Well, given Natelson’s lack of a background in terrorism I don’t think the cases are comparable, but okay. On the other hand, since the Ayers issue was pushed by Christopher Kennedy, both denials were presumably by offended liberals who disliked the political stances of the professor in question. . . .
MORE: Bigtime constitutional scholar Calvin Massey calls the move “vindictive.” He comments: “Sounds like petty payback from the withered minds of the Montana law faculty. So much for intellectual diversity.” Ouch!