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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Faculty presence at student-sponsored talks

Yesterday, I gave a talk on "The Rehnquist Legacy" (taken, basically, from this) to the Federalist Society chapter at the University of Cincinnati School of Law.  (I was unaware, by the way, before the visit, that UC is a public school, and that it has very small -- about 125 -- classes.  It is, at present, working to capitalize on being small, public, and urban -- very interesting.)  I really enjoyed the visit.

In particular, I was struck, and pleased, by the fact that a number of UC faculty came to the talk.  Which got me wondering -- how common is it for faculty to attend and participate in student-sponsored events like this (e.g., FedSoc talks, ACS events, etc.)?  Do others think -- as I am inclined to think -- that faculty attendance and participation is a good thing?  Are there pitfalls?

Posted by Rick Garnett on November 29, 2006 at 09:23 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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To state what's probably the obvious: My sense is that students enjoy it when faculty attend such events -- it validates the intellectual quality of the event, the sponsoring organization, and the students who organized it.

But that enjoyment may dissipate among some if attending faculty then proceed to dominate it. Some law faculty have a propensity to enjoy the sound of their own voice and the brilliance of their mind to a much greater degree than others do. Student-sponsored events should be about the students attending -- they organized it, presumably their fees (or money supplied by an outside organization or alumni) have paid for it. Faculty participation that ends up dominating the event runs counter to the event's purpose. I think it's up to both the hosting school's faculty and the visiting speaker to try to arrange extra time for faculty-faculty interaction.

Posted by: Mark Fenster | Nov 29, 2006 10:19:28 AM

To reiterate the obvious, I concur. It not only provides moral support to the students who organized it when faculty attend, but also reflects positively on the school, particularly when the event involves outside speakers. I remember organizing an event that, despite my best efforts, ended up conflicting with several other events, which decimated our attendence. I was really embarrassed that our speaker had such a small audience, and I remember running downstairs to our dean and to tell her that she really needed to make an appearance because otherwise I think both we and the school would have looked really bad. (To her credit, she did.)

Posted by: Cathy | Nov 30, 2006 12:05:06 AM

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