UD thanks a Florida State University reader…

… for this most recent update of the Dan Markel murder. It confirms what UD has been feeling as she reads accounts of Markel’s death — that this sounds like a targeted, not at all random killing.

“The initial investigation has provided no indication that this case is connected to a burglary or robbery and investigators are assuring residents there is no evidence this was a random act,” a police press release says. “Neighbourhood residents should continue to be vigilant but it appears at this time that Mr. Markel was the intended victim in this incident.”

The only thing that stands out in what UD has so far read about Markel’s life is that he had been going through an ugly, protracted divorce.


Update: Details on the divorce and litigation here.

A law professor at Florida State University…

… is gunned down in his house, apparently by an intruder. His community of students, colleagues and bloggers remembers him here.


From Dan Markel’s review of Deborah Lipstadt’s book, History on Trial:

From the outset, Lipstadt makes plain that various aspects of the Holocaust are the subject of legitimate and competing historical interpretations, and that it was not her goal, either in scholarship or at the trial, to shut down rivalling understandings…

[I]t turns out that this reminder was vitally important, because certain well-known historians improperly chastised Lipstadt about the purported “chilling effect” inflicted by her hard-fought victory [over David Irving].

Their concern is arrant tripe.


This update suggests Markel was murdered “after opening the door of his home, though whether as part of a robbery or something else is unclear.”

In memoriam, UD took down from a shelf in her living room this evening…

Rediscovering Fuller: Essays on Implicit Law and Institutional Design, one of whose editors died on Flight 17. In his introduction to the book on Lon Fuller (Mr UD is one of the contributors), Willem J. Witteveen writes

[Lon Fuller] raised issues that are highly relevant to our own times – think, for instance, of the difficulties involved in designing institutions which are acutely felt in Eastern Europe; or, to mention another example, the difficulty of saying just what moral stance is appropriate and fitting for jurists who perform a social role as legislators or adjudicators, questions which are issues of contemporary debate in the Netherlands and the United States respectively… Especially at a time when too much attention in legal theory is addressed to problems of interpretation of law – to the point of assuming that all of law is in some way interpretation – Fuller deserves to be read for his pioneering work on legislation, the social basis of law, institutional design, and the moral responsibilities of lawyers.

Last year, it was a professor of physics at …

Columbia University.

This year, it was a Leeds University professor.

Let us see if we can make some headway into the mystery of why, occasionally, male professors teaching large lecture courses strip in front of their classes.

In both cases, it was part of a lesson plan. The physicist intended to shake his students out of conventional thinking as they entered the bizarre realm of physics. The events management guy meant to show his lecture hall what a boffo sales presentation looks like.

In both cases, the lesson plan failed. Certainly both instructors riveted their students; but the students seem – judging by their reactions – not to have been riveted on physics or business, but rather on psychology. As in the psychology of a professor who takes his clothes off (except for his shorts) and then does other strange things (assuming the fetal position; shaving) in front of large numbers of people.

So … Nervous breakdown? No. UD has covered a few cases of professors having nervous breakdowns or other sorts of mental collapses in front of their classes, and while they may indeed involve removal of clothing, they’re not like this. In the case of breakdowns, students tend to be immediately distressed, frightened, and on the phone to 911.

UD instead inclines toward Male Midlife Narcissistic Disorder. You’re restless, under-appreciated… There’s this ready-made irresistible crowd of eyes…

Heroes, Heroines, and Heroin

America’s adorable, folksy, opioid epidemic now has Chicago and other locales suing drug-makers for lying about the dangers of pain pills. More municipal lawsuits are on the way.

“For years, big pharma has deceived the public about the true risks and benefits of highly potent and highly addictive painkillers in order to expand their customer base and increase their bottom line,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement today. “It’s time for these companies to end these irresponsible practices and be held accountable.”


What’s this got to do with a blog called University Diaries?

Without the pharma-sponsored labwork of university professors all over this country, this epidemic would never have worked out so well. You can’t put a price on being able to draw on the scientific integrity of universities when it comes to convincing a whole nation that it should be taking OxyContin. Without the close industry relationships forged by, for instance, the University of Washington’s Dennis Turk (updated information about Turk here; scroll down), you simply wouldn’t get the necessary information out there that you need to get out there (“100 million [Americans] … suffer from chronic pain”) (it’s true!) …

“To avoid confusion: this [lawsuit] is separate from [Peter Ludlow's] counter-suit against the undergraduate student that filed suit against him (in Illinois state court) and that brought a Federal suit against Northwestern alleging that the university mishandled her complaint against him.”

Got that?

Why do people hate professors?

Michael O. West, who was on the UNC faculty with [Julius] Nyang’oro for six years until 2002 and still considers him a friend, said he has often wondered why his former colleague has said nothing in his defense for years. Nyang’oro could face up to 10 months in prison if convicted.

“He is a man of patience and forbearance. Long-suffering is his strong suit,” said West, now a professor at Binghamton University in New York.

People hate professors because a professor will describe a fellow professor who spent years offering bogus courses that never met, and getting paid close to two hundred thousand dollars a year in exchange for this activity, as long-suffering.

Italians are All Jews, Lenny Bruce Famously Said.

And in a similar way, professors are all – er, let me get the language right –

“liberal[s] [who] sit in the rarified environs of academia in the ivory towers of a college campus with no accountability and no consequence … [and who] throw stones at those of us who are working every day to make a difference.”

It doesn’t matter to Eric Cantor that the guy he’s talking about is his tea party challenger, a man who has won endorsement from a raft of reactionaries. It doesn’t matter to Eric Cantor that David Brat works every day, at the marvelously titled BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program, to make a difference. It doesn’t matter to Eric Cantor that Brat’s very list of alma maters fairly reeks of God and country:

Hope College
Princeton Theological Seminary
American University

Cantor, famous for his you’re just jealous analysis of income inequality in America (scroll down), is letting his own propensity to envy slip through here, I’m afraid. Unpack his attack on useless liberal Brat and you discover a hard-bitten man of the people (given their respective positions on the ideological spectrum, I think you’d have to say a hard-bitten man of the left) resenting a “rarified” leisure class that leans back in its ivory loungers and pitches missiles at the working class (“those of us who are working every day”).

Could’ve been written by Marat.

Congratulations, Suckers.

[T]he system is not sustainable in its present form. The graduation into a shrunken legal sector of students with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt, nondischargeable in bankruptcy, cannot continue.

Antonin Scalia, commencement address to the graduating class of William and Mary Law School.

Although he cites friend-of-this-blog Paul Campos, Scalia seems not to have read him (or the hilarious Brian Tamanaha) on law professors and their feelings about their salaries. Because Scalia says this:

[T]he vast majority of law schools will have to lower tuition. That probably means smaller law school faculties though not necessarily one third smaller. That would be no huge disaster. Harvard Law School, in the year I graduated, had a faculty of 56 professors, 9 teaching fellows, and 4 lecturers; it now has a faculty of 119 professors, 53 visiting professors, and 115 lecturers in law. A total of 69 then and 287 now. And cutting back on law school tuition surely means higher teaching loads. That also would not be the end of the world. When I got out of law school, the average teaching load was almost 8 hours per week. Currently it is about half that. And last but not least, professorial salaries may have to be reduced, or at least stop rising. Again, not the end of the world.

On that last point, here are the words of Kent Syverud, chair of the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar:

“The painful truth is that the problem with costs is that law professors and deans are paid too much relative to the amount of work they do… The whole problem of costs would go away tomorrow if our salaries were halved.”


So here’s the deal, as ol’ UD sees it. Harvard will continue to inflate its law faculty to infinity, because Harvard has a close to forty billion dollar endowment and can do anything. Let’s not use Harvard as an example of anything. Other law schools, even respectable ones, will go the cheesy for-profit online route (they will contract with a company to exploit their university’s name and offer third-rate law degrees by correspondence) before they start cutting classroom faculty or increasing work load.

Yes, this approach will degrade their university, and its law program, yet further. But in the short term it will protect that most unusual of graduate faculties – faculties which graduate many unemployable, deeply indebted attorneys, but faculties that continue to be paid in the hundreds of thousands for teaching three or four courses a year.

“[Wayne State University] alleges that [Professor Robert] Mentzer has devoted more time to [San Diego State University] while investing minimal hours in WSU students, in spite of a $279,370 salary. He also lives in Virginia. [WSU President M. Roy] Wilson said Mentzer hasn’t been to WSU more than 10 times in the past year.”

UD‘s getting whiplash trying to follow this one. It’s incredibly postmodern.

But I’m sure the courts will sort it out.


Meanwhile, though, and purely for comparison purposes:

Jonathan Hart.

Jacko and Sainfort.

“The agreement allowed professor Teizer to return to his campus office to reclaim personal belongings which … included model trains worth $20,000.”

Ah, the life of an American university professor… After robbing his graduate students of thousands of dollars, Georgia Tech Environmental Engineering prof Jochem Teizer was not only allowed to resign (rather than be dismissed, a black mark on his record that might put a crimp on future thefts), but will, it seems, walk off without anyone filing criminal charges.

UD loves the detail about little Jochem’s train collection. Students must have delighted in watching this adorable eccentric make his teeny cars go vroomvroomWatch the choochoo, kiddies! [Slips hand in students' back pockets.]

Yes, yes, he’s been made to pay back the money.

Houston, We Have a Problem.

When you turn out to have been providing a home to swindlers for thirteen years, you should probably use the discovery as a teachable moment.

UD isn’t saying there’s anything truly newsworthy in the story of two physicists on the University of Houston faculty who set up a bogus business and then lied on hundreds of federal grant applications in order to steal over a million dollars for themselves. As you know if you read this blog with any regularity, engineering professors dominate the lying on federal grant applications on behalf of bogus businesses market; but this doesn’t mean there’s no competition from others in the hard sciences. Like these guys.

The indictment describes how Bensaoula and Starikov, on behalf of their company, used false and fraudulent letters of support and made false claims about facilities, equipment and materials. In one instance, Starikov is accused of submitting a letter of support from Solex Robotics Systems, which the Houston-based company didn’t know about, to the National Science Foundation for a $499,995 grant. Other letters of support were altered and submitted with cut-and-pasted signatures from the originals, the indictment says.

In other applications, the two listed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of costs that they “well knew Integrated Micro Sensors Inc. would not incur,” according to the indictment.

When applying for funding from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, the two included costs for non-existent subcontracts with UH, according to the indictment, which also alleges the two stated in proposals that their company would pay a required subcontract fee to UH, but failed to do so on four of five contracts.

As Elvis put it, Just Pretend.

“Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?”…

… asks Algernon, in The Importance of Being Earnest; and it is a question a number of law professors have been posing lately about law students, whose duty is to set us (law profs, that is) a good example by paying $50,000 and up (plus living expenses) a year for law school, and then being unemployed or taking a public interest job that may pay close to nothing.

As you probably know, law jobs are collapsing in this country, largely due to far too many law school graduates constantly being added to the job-seeking pool. Some schools are looking for ways to respond to this problem. Others are not.

In response to this New York Times opinion piece, written by two law school professors who basically deny the problem, Paul Campos first debunks their optimistic statistics, and then remarks:

The most nauseating aspect of …this [op-ed] is the gelatinous patina of sanctimony the authors slather onto their exercise in profoundly anti-intellectual — if “intellectual” is taken to mean “minimally honest” — hucksterism. “Legal education is still an excellent choice for those committed to serving others in a rewarding career,” they primly observe. Yes, it’s certainly been an excellent choice for them. Let’s take a moment to contemplate how well these public-spirited scholars are doing for themselves by “serving others.”

The first person Chemerinsky hired onto the UC-Irvine faculty when he got this self-abnegating enterprise rolling five years ago [Erwin Chemirinsky, notes Campos, is dean of a brand new law school that, "in a hyper-saturated legal employment market," [charges] $47,300 in resident and $53,900 in non-resident annual tuition.] was his wife. In 2012 this dynamic academic duo pulled down a combined salary of $597,000 from the University of California’s perpetually cash-strapped system.

Meanwhile [the co-author of the NYT piece] took home a salary of $320,000, so it’s safe to say a career in public service is working out OK for her as well.

Obviously there’s plentiful comic territory here for those who enjoy either Wildean languidity about class privilege or straightforward Tartuffian riffs on hypocrisy (if you haven’t read Brian Tamanaha’s hilarious classic on this subject, do so).


Add to Chemerinsky’s hearty assurance that all is well the rage of University of Oregon professor Robert Illig at the possibility that he and his colleagues in the law school might not get raises this year. The blog UO Matters quotes from two emails Illig sent to the faculty in which he worries about the possibility that the dean of the school (this might be a faculty proposal rather than something from the dean; it’s not clear at the moment) might take away raises and invest them instead in enhancing job prospects for recent graduates.

I feel that having given up the chance at a seven-figure annual income [for a six-figure one] is charity enough for the students.


Campos wonders if Illig’s thing is “an elaborate parody.”


More information on the faculty resolution.

Mr UD’s Colleague, Karen Dawisha…

… (she left the University of Maryland a number of years ago for Miami University) writes a manuscript about organized crime and Vladimir Putin that scares the bejaysus out of Cambridge University Press. Libel laws! No can publish.

This is from Karen’s response to the editor there:

Last week the EU and the US Government issued a visa ban and asset freeze on the very inner core that is the subject of my book. Many works will now come out on the makeup of the list and why each individual was placed on it. The answers to these questions are in my book. Isn’t it a pity that the UK is a ‘no-fly’ zone for publishing the truth about this group? These Kremlin-connected oligarchs feel free to buy Belgravia, kill dissidents in Piccadilly with Polonium 210, fight each other in the High Court, and hide their children in British boarding schools. And as a result of their growing knowledge about and influence in the UK, even the most significant British institutions (and I think we can agree that CUP, with its royal charter, 500-year history and recent annual revenues in excess of $400m, is a veritable British institution) cower and engage in pre-emptive book-burnings as a result of fear of legal action…. [Perhaps some day we] can once again turn to CUP with the knowledge that it is indeed devoted to publishing “all manner of books” and not just those that won’t awaken the ire of corrupt Russian oligarchs out to make a further mockery of British institutions.

“Additionally, Jha stole about $36,000 in stipend funds from students between July 2009 and July 2010.”

You gotta admit that stealing from students is the cherry-on-top of university corruption, the real apex of depravity. A high-ranking professor/administrator at Morgan State University did that, plus lots of other stuff that will send him to prison for a decade or so.

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