Monday, August 26, 2019

Cohesion Among Law Faculty

Paul Caron (Dean, Pepperdine) has posted a comment about cohesion among law faculties: Moneyball, Astroball, And Pepperball.

"In my second year as dean, I was heavily influenced by Astroball. The Houston Astros general manager had used the data-driven Moneyball approach to dramatically improve the team, but fell short of a World Series championship. He then discovered the work of Kate Bezrukova, a SUNY-Buffalo business school professor whose research had studied various industries and concluded that in each one, the companies with greater employee cohesion performed better. Her insight was that demographic differences among employees ("fault lines") adversely affect performance. The GM hired her to examine whether team cohesion mattered in baseball – the conclusion was that it did, and it could account for an additional six wins per season."

"In summer 2018, I invited every faculty member and their spouse to our home for dinner in small groups. I asked everyone for their thoughts on how to strengthen community among the faculty. Consensus emerged around three things we implemented in the 2018-19 academic year. First, we instituted Faculty Mondays: we provided lunch and held faculty meetings, research and teaching workshops, and meetings with no formal agenda each week. Second, we restored the faculty retreat with spouses and children — it had been an annual event but was cancelled for several years due to budget challenges."

"Third, we gave out a Waves of Excellence Award at each faculty meeting. I presented the first one; thereafter, the winner chose the next month’s winner. It rotated each month from teaching, scholarship, and service. It came with a cheesy trophy the winner kept in her office for the month.  Perhaps most importantly, the winner got a reserved spot for the month in the front row in the faculty parking lot."

I agree with Dean Caron that cohesion is important in a law faculty.  A law faculty that gets along and follows a single vision is much better at educating students, and it is a pleasant place to work.  Hats off to Paul and his faculty for undertaking the effort.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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