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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What makes for a good Associate Dean for Research?

Over at the Faculty Lounge, Danny Sokal writes:

At the AALS annual meeting, I had a a chance to catch up with friends and compare experiences across schools.  From our perspectives, perhaps the most important person on the faculty for the untenured is the Associate Dean for Research.  A good Associate Dean does more than send you emails about upcoming conferences and research grant applications.  At the University of Florida, my Associate Dean sits down with junior faculty on a regular basis to go over research agenda, provides significant comments on drafts, brainstorms on organization of papers and works very hard to ensure that we progress as scholars who can balance between reaching specialists in our field and engaging with a broader scholarly community in our writing.  The sense I get from friends at other institutions in that there is high variance in how hands on the Associate Dean is and the effectiveness and availability of their Associate Dean.  I suspect that if one were to do a longitudinal study of productivity and impact of junior scholars, one would find a correlation between a strong Associate Dean for Research and success in the scholarly enterprise.

It seems perfectly legitimate for ADR's to be involved in junior mentoring, but for what it's worth, I pretty much doubt empirical claims (which, to be clear, are not made by Sokal,) that a strong ADR can "fix" otherwise weak junior talent or that a weak ADR can stunt the success of otherwise strong junior talent. FSU's own ADR, Jim Rossi (visiting at Harvard this spring), has played an extraordinary role in intellectual life and institution-building at FSU, but I don't think anyone, including Jim, views the ADR's role here as encompassing the kind of intense mentorship that might be going on elsewhere.  

That said, in service to my ongoing quest to figure out best practices for law schools, I'd be curious to hear thoughts by ADRs or others of what's working and what's not. Does anyone have something to add to James Lindgren's seminal article on cultivating research and intellectual life, , Fifty Ways to Promote Scholarship in 49 JOURNAL OF LEGAL EDUCATION 126-142 (1999)? What's changed in the ten years since that piece appeared, aside from the appearance of blogs?

Posted by Administrators on January 21, 2009 at 09:38 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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