Category Archives: U.Miami

Thoughts on L’Affaire Ravicher (Updated)

Daniel Ravicher started and runs a successful entrepreneurship clinic (the “Startup Practicum”) at the University of Miami School of Law.  His office happens to be in the same pod as mine, so back in the days when people saw people I would see him from time to time. Like an increasing number of the people who teach students in law these days, Ravicher is not a tenured member of the faculty, and indeed was not hired for his scholarship. Instead he was hired for his skills, and has a term renewable contract.

He’s recently taken to social media – and even Fox TV – to claim he’s been fired for his pro-Trump tweets and other speech, or is about to be, or may not have his contract renewed when it expires. As far as I have been able to ascertain, at least the first two of these claims are simply false. The fate of the third lies well in the future.

While Ravicher has behaved badly – lying about your employer counts as behaving badly in my book – the University has, with one exception (discussed rather far below) [Update: as described in more detail below, according to the Dean, even this wasn’t anywhere as bad as the story that had been going around], behaved quite well, and held, so far at least, to its fundamental commitments to academic freedom.

But first, some lengthy background.

1. The Applicable Rules

The University of Miami, which has substantial powers to dictate rules regarding the terms of faculty employment to the law school, has an extensive Faculty Manual, which describes various rights and duty of the faculty. As regards freedom of speech and academic freedom, the Manual makes no distinction between tenured and non-tenured faculty, although its provisions do not in many cases apply to “staff” who are hired in a different manner and in some cases have fewer rights against dismissal for various reasons.

The UM Faculty Manual provides in § C.8 that

“Faculty members shall have full freedom of expression as teachers, researchers, scholars, and/or artists; this includes freedom to present their work, to advocate solutions to human problems, and to criticize existing institutions. This freedom does not abrogate faculty members’ responsibility to perform their academic duties or obligations they may have assumed in accepting support for research.  Research activities are also subject to University policies such as those on patents, copyrights, and inventions as set forth in the Faculty Manual.

“Faculty members shall have freedom in the classroom in discussing the subject but should avoid persistently introducing material that has no relation to that subject.

“When speaking or writing as members of society, faculty members retain all the rights shared with other members of society and shall be free from University censorship or discipline. It should be remembered that the public may judge a profession and the University by public utterances by faculty members. Faculty members thus should make every effort to indicate whether they are acting as spokespersons for the University or are speaking in a private capacity.”

That is a nice statement, and a pretty absolute rule.  But wait, there’s more. Continue reading

Posted in Law School, U.Miami | 16 Comments

Yay Tony!

Taxprof Blog, Miami’s Tony Varona Is Fifth Law School Dean To Give At Least $100,000 To Students.

I never wanted to be a Dean–too many meetings. Being a Dean during a pandemic must be truly horrible, so I’m very grateful that we have one who seems to be doing such a great job under such trying circumstances.

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Reminder: Faculty Senate Event 5pm Today

UM Faculty Scholarship Medal (reverse)It’s not too late to register for the (Zoomed) Faculty Senate awards ceremony this afternoon at 5pm. (It was supposed to be in-person last semester, but it got postponed to all-Zoom this semester.)

As the recipient of this year’s Faculty Scholarship award, I’ve been invited to give a 10 minute talk related to my work, that I’m calling “Disruptive Technology and the Law”.

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An Invitation From the Faculty Senate

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UMiami Prepares for COVID Cuts

This morning’s Herald reports,

On Wednesday, the University of Miami in an email announced “financial mitigation actions,” effective immediately, to reduce expenses across the university, including its healthcare system, UHealth.

“Today’s highly uncertain economic environment poses serious financial implications for our University, as well as for our health care system, UHealth,” the email read. “These are unprecedented times, which require significant measures.”

Those measures include a hiring freeze, a postponement of merit-based pay raises, significantly reduced or eliminated non-essential, non-salary expenses, delaying planned construction projects until 2022, tapping into unrestricted donor funds and expanding its freshman class from about 2,200 to 2,350.

The email, written by Jeffrey L. Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Jacqueline Travisano, executive vice president for business and finance and chief operating officer, signaled more cuts could come.

That this University, much like all others, faces financial problems is a given: From a financial flows point of view we’re a large hospital with a smallish university attached. And hospitals are being hammered two ways: large, unexpected, COVID-19-related costs, and a collapse of other sorts of revenue as patients put off elective and even necessary surgery. So it seems likely we are in for it.

That said, is it realistic for the College to plan on a larger entering Freshman class? I worry that (sensible) people will still be avoiding crowds — and maybe everyone — in early Fall, and indeed until we have a reliable vaccine. And the most optimistic estimates I’ve seen for a reliable vaccine put FDA approval in early 2021; even then, production will doubtless take time also.

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We Have Great Students

Talia Boiangin

Talia Boiangin

Congratulations to MiamiLaw 3L Talia Boiangin who won third place in a national competition, LSAC’s first-ever Access-to-Justice Legal Tech Competition. Her winning project was the Cyber Civil Rights Resource Guide, an app that places non-consensual pornography statutes and tips for removing such images at victims’ fingertips. Ms. Boiangin won $5,000 for her app.

Well done! Now how about that paper you’re writing for me….

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