March 10, 2011

ACADEMIC FREEDOM UPDATE: Widener Committee Advises: Withdraw Charges Against Law Prof Who Used Hypotheticals to Teach. As the headline suggests, this case — trying to fire a professor over a common law-teaching practice — is a deep embarrassment not only for Widener Law, but in particular for Widener Law’s Dean Linda Ammons. Can she remain as a viable Dean after this?

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh thinks that the committee’s letter is not as supportive as the story above suggests. Well, I read it before I posted the above, and it does recommend withdrawing the move for dismissal of Professor Connell. It’s true that it does recommend doing so “without prejudice,” meaning that it could be reinstated at some later date, but I don’t see that as a significant difference, since you could also, I presume, just start over. Double Jeopardy doesn’t apply here. The bottom line is that the Dean took an extraordinary action — trying to remove a tenured faculty over what, from all appearances, is nothing more than the use of hypotheticals involving the Dean, something hardly unheard of in law-teaching — and was rebuffed, without any suggestion in the letter that the professor in question did anything wrong.

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