September 7, 2021

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS, LITTLE ROCK SCANDAL INVOLVING A CHAIR NAMED AFTER BILL CLINTON, GOES ON:

Two UALR law professors who questioned the way an endowed professorship had its title quietly changed to attach the name of William J. Clinton have found their lives and careers significantly altered since a legislative hearing on the name change not long ago.

Professor Tom Sullivan, who earlier this summer sent an open email to the faculty about the Clinton name change, has left the school on his own volition within the past two weeks.

Professor Robert Steinbuch, who publicly questioned the change, has seen both seminar classes he’s taught for nearly 20 years yanked away and canceled, and he’s been reassigned to teach an unfamiliar class vacated by Sullivan’s departure.

Asked about these developments, Bowen Law School Dean Theresa “Terri” Beiner told me in an email exchange that she “cannot comment on personnel matters. Generally, courses are assigned by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs based on the needs of the law school. Any recent decisions had nothing to do with the Aug. 19th legislative hearing or any events leading up to that hearing.”

Well, OK then, Dean Beiner. Yet these changes sure seem to me like interesting timing.

My understanding of the fallout at Bowen following that state Senate hearing into this months-long flap are as follows:

Steinbuch and Sullivan’s questions and concerns over the change were validated during the hearing.
UALR’s chancellor also interceded to remove Clinton’s name from the endowed professorship based on the valid concerns by these professors. The chair of the Senate’s State Agencies Committee characterized the outcome as a “capitulation” by the Bowen School in a matter that should never have gone as far as it did.

Steinbuch said he was denied his seniority to teach the now-open Constitutional Law class where the veteran professor has both professional and personal expertise. “Despite applying to teach this class, I was denied. No Jew or conservative has ever taught this critical course,” he said.

Instead of his traditional seminars featuring free-market components, Steinbuch said the school is mandating he head a course in criminal law that he’s never taught, or even expressed interest in teaching. “Apparently I’m not qualified for the class on our Constitution used by the left for political indoctrination of law students. But I am somehow qualified to teach criminal law in which I have no interest or teaching background?”

Known statewide as a legal champion for transparency and freedom of information in governmental actions, Steinbuch said he believes the school also is forcing him into “an overloaded schedule in the spring because it chose to cancel my regular seminars.”

“The school also refused to split my 114-person class, resulting in an overloaded classroom that concerns me, especially regarding the ongoing spread of covid.” The dean did split another professor’s class, he said.
Understandably perturbed by these developments since he raised the issue of Clinton’s name being quietly attached to the Constitutional Law endowed chair, Steinbuch said he’s informed Sen. Jason Rapert, the chair of the State Agencies Committee, of his treatment and is waiting to see whether the situation necessitates yet another hearing.

Petty retaliation is the common coin of thwarted academic bureaucrats. This should be smoked out. It’s hard to get bureaucrats fired — though deans are more vulnerable than most — but you can make their quality of life suffer, and people don’t become bureaucrats because they relish adversity.

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