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Leiter has long disparaged scambloggers for correctly pointing out that the recent problems in legal academia have been caused by legal academia itself. Apparently even when a fellow professor takes to web to engage in honest, thoughtful reflection on what went wrong at Whittier, a contention that anything but uncontrollable external forces to which there was no possible response was the cause of the school's decline is tantamount to scamblogging. I believe his ad homonym attacks reflect a cognitively dissonant and increasingly stubborn conviction that in spite of all the dis-confirming evidence, the realities of the last decade should have no lasting impact on legal education. On the contrary, he seems to believe that legal academia could and should more or less return to its pre-recession incarnation any day now. When the next Whittier comes down the pike (and it will), I would like to see it adapt, instead of closing. I would like to see it shrink its faculty size, have professors completely eschew legal research in favor of a major increase in teaching load, and have the associated decrease in fixed costs passed on to the students in the form of greatly reduced tuition. Instead of trying to vainly emulate an elite law school, I would like to see it own the mission of training the next generation of competent working attorneys without saddling them with massive amounts of debt. Would such an experiment work? I don't know. But I would like to see it try since the existing system has not been kind to the fourth tier. And it sure beats going out of business.
"Conventional wisdom suggests that GPAs in humanities disciplines may not be equivalent to GPAs in STEM fields, but there is little data that compares the two." There are actually a number of high-quality works on the subject, which have shown quite clearly that humanities GPAs are greatly inflated. The seminal work on this subject may be Rojstaczer & Healy's 2010 article in Columbia University's Teachers College Record entitled 'Grading in American Colleges and Universities'. They found that relative to natural science GPAs, humanities GPAs are inflated by about .4 points (on a 4.0 scale), and humanities GPAs are also inflated relative to engineering and even social science GPAs. As the authors state in this excellent article: "We’ve looked at contemporary grades from over 160 colleges and universities in the United States with a combined enrollment of over 2,000,000 students and historical grades from over 80 schools..." Given that rigorous analysis of such a large data set concludes that humanities grades are disproportionately higher, hypothesizing that the US News emphasis on raw GPA irrespective of major could lead schools to admit inferior students is entirely reasonable.
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Jul 31, 2017