Attacks on George Mason University's relationship with donors obscure why it has received so many grants: its scholars have a record of excellence.
As described in my earlier post and a splendid Wall Street Journal piece by my colleague Lloyd Cohen, some members of the GMU faculty strenuously oppose the renaming of GMU School of Law after the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and the Faculty Senate has passed a resolution to that effect. The mau-mau artists have somehow managed to convey the impression that faculty opposition includes members of the law faculty.
That is emphatically not so. As of May 12, the law faculty unanimously approved a resolution in support of the renaming, and in protest against the GMU Faculty Senate’s shameful agitation. Res ipsa loquitur.
Herewith the Resolution of the George Mason University School of Law Faculty:
Sense of the George Mason University School of Law Faculty Regarding the Naming of the Law School “The Antonin Scalia Law School” and The Terms of Grants
In light of recent efforts by George Mason University faculty members, not affiliated with the Law School but acting through the University’s Faculty Senate, to preempt the self-governance and academic freedom of the Law School’s faculty and to interfere with the informed judgment of the University administration and Board of Visitors, the faculty of the Law School hereby adopts the following Sense of the Faculty Resolution:
1. The Law Faculty supports the re-naming of the Law School in honor of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Naming the Law School after Justice Scalia is a fitting tribute to his memory. Individual members of the Law School faculty hold different views about Justice Scalia’s jurisprudence, but all recognize that he was among the most consequential figures in the history of the Supreme Court.
2. The Law Faculty recognizes that discussions connected to major gifts require the confidentiality that is normally accorded to them, both at George Mason and in other universities.
3. The Law Faculty finds that the minimal conditions placed on the two gifts connected with the re-naming of the Law School are appropriate. Both grants specify that the University must notify the donors if it replaces the current Law School Dean, and both reserve to the donors discretion to discontinue future contributions toward the gifts if the donors determine that the University or the Law School do not comply with the terms of the grants. These conditions are not interferences with academic freedom but reasonable exercises of the donors’ rights to dispose of their property, specifically by imposing conditions on their gifts they find likely to advance their philanthropic goals. The donors have not requested and have not been provided any authority to interfere with faculty governance of the Law School, or the selection or retention of its Dean. Indeed, in the first paragraphs of their grant agreements, both of the donors explicitly state that “the academic freedom of the University, the [Law] School, and their faculty, students, and staff is critical to the success of the school’s research, scholarship, teaching, and service.” One of the donors declares that its grant was intended “to help promote a republic of science” at George Mason University so that “ideas can be exchanged freely [there] and useful knowledge will benefit the well-being of individuals and society.”
4. The Law Faculty condemns the ill-informed criticisms of educational programs of the Law & Economics Center by faculty unaffiliated with the Law School, including some faculty senators. It rejects as interference with its academic freedom the Faculty Senate’s suggestion that some external body should be commissioned to audit these programs, or to pass judgment on their merits.
5. The unprecedented nature of the Faculty Senate’s baseless criticisms of the gifts at issue suggests ideological bias. The Faculty Senate’s insistence that major gifts be accepted only following some kind of a public deliberative process is not a demand that has ever been made before, or since, the Scalia naming gifts were announced. The Faculty Senate is claiming to be acting to protect the academic freedom of University faculty even though their stated criticisms are specious, the faculty of the unit being re-named and receiving the grants supports both gifts, and the senators representing the Law School pointed out as much to other senators during Senate deliberation.
6. To all onlookers, but especially to the donors of the two gifts and to the Scalia family, the Law Faculty expresses its regret at the unprofessional and dissembling conduct of the Faculty Senate.
7. The Law Faculty expresses gratitude to Law School Dean Henry Butler, President Angel Cabrera, the Board of Visitors, and others who were instrumental in bringing these transformative gifts to the Law School.
8. The Law Faculty expresses unqualified gratitude to the donors of the two gifts to the Law School, which will support student scholarships and other important academic objectives.
Adopted by the Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty of the George Mason University School of Law, May 12, 2016, by a vote of 18 yeas and 0 nays with one abstention.