This ad popped into my mailbox:
Faculty Positions. Phoenix International School of Law (PISL) seeks candidates for full-time and visiting faculty positions. Applicants should be (1) student-centered; (2) skilled instructors and effective mentors; (3) comfortable with change; (4) attracted by the unique challenges and opportunities of a start-up institution; (4) multiculturally competent; and (5) committed to management and faculty development based on a best practices model. They also should have the capacity not only to educate but inspire, share the institution's priorities of graduating practice-ready lawyers, possess interpersonal skills that contribute to positive group dynamics, and appreciate the need for processes that facilitate a nimble and agile institution. PISL is committed to meeting all standards necessary for approval by the American Bar Association, including those governing job security and academic freedom. It seeks to attract individuals, however, who understand that these interests are optimized not by formal safeguards but upon the quality of group dynamics. PISL anticipates commencing operations with a small part-time division in Spring 2005 and full-time and part-time divisions in Fall 2005. Please submit applications to Donald E. Lively, Dean, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite the stuff about “meeting all standards necessary for approval by the American Bar Association, including those governing job security and academic freedom” this doesn't sound like they believe in tenure, does it? That should set the cat among the pigeons.
As it happens I agree that it's group dynamics — esprit de corps, shame even — that keeps some tenured people being good citizens, teaching well, and being productive long after their salaries have maxed out in real dollar terms. (For most, though, it's their natural obsessive-compulsive tendencies.) But an ad that feels a need to make a point of this stuff, plus the reference to “comfortable with change” and “committed to management and faculty development based on a best practices model,” well, that looks like code for something I don't think I'm going to like the looks of.
Startup PISL boasts a Dean with a serious academic track record, and experience with administration at non-traditional for-profit law schools—and a financial interest in the outcome. Dean Lively was until recently Dean at Florida Coastal School of Law proprietary law school recently purchased by a Sterling Capital, a venture capital firm. The story reporting that purchase states that,
Sterling plans to develop similar law schools in other major markets that it believes are underserved with respect to legal education either by acquiring existing schools or creating new ones, the company said. Such plans will be managed by Legal Education Holding Corp., in which the school's chancellor, Don Lively, will hold a key management position.
FCSL is not Sterling's first foray into private education as a commercial venture. The company assumed operating control of Sylvan Learning Systems in 1991 and acquired Professional Career Development Institute, a nationally accredited distance learning school offering professional education and vocational courses, in January 2003.