Thursday, May 31, 2012
Ave Maria School of Law has recently announced that former NLRB Member John Raudabaugh will be the new Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law. I've got no problem with a law school having a qualified, conservative labor law teacher. But the specifics of this arrangement raises red flags for me. The school's announcement:
Ave Maria School of Law, in conjunction with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, has established the Reed Larson Professorship of Labor Law. The position will be held by John Raudabaugh, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board (1990-1993) and an experienced labor and employee relations attorney.
The Foundation will provide Professor Raudabaugh's services to Ave Maria School of Law. He will teach courses related to labor law and employee rights. As part of his teaching duties, Professor Raudabaugh will supervise a labor law litigation course (practicum or clinic) involving students in significant Foundation-supported cases each academic term, thereby giving high level litigation experience and education to Ave Maria School of Law students. In addition to his teaching duties, Professor Raudabaugh, as a Foundation Staff Attorney, will also work in the Foundation's legal aid program (described at www.nrtw.org) and litigate Foundation-supported cases brought for individual workers.
So, basically, Ave Maria is allowing the NRTWLDF to put in one of the group's attorneys in the classroom, which is troubling. Outside groups funding professorships and other things is certainly not unusual. There has long been controversy over gifts that have strings attached related to donating group's goals. But this case seems to make the law school an unfiltered mouthpiece for the NRTWLDF--in particular, having students working on (only?) Foundation cases. I can undersand why NRTWLDF would want to do this, but to my mind, Ave Maria is undermining its credibility here. Yes, I know it's a conservative school, but this goes beyond that. For instance, if the SEIU funded a professorship at my school with no strings attached, I'd be fine with that. If Craig Becker wanted to teach at my school, I'd be thrilled. But if the SEIU offered to fund a professorship only if it was held by Becker and only if it required the litigation of SEIU cases, I'd be the first to object. That takes away any semblance of academic independence or integrity.
Hat Tip: Patrick Kavanagh