Chancellor Answers Student Questions at Town Hall Meeting

Chancellor Jack Weiss met with an assembly of students over lunch recently in his first Town Hall Meeting of the 2008-2009 academic year. Weiss answered questions on topics ranging from whether or not students’ pet dogs should be allowed in the library to the grading system.

The meeting began with Weiss updating the assembly on recent events at the Law Center, with several announcements pertaining to the faculty. He announced that Lee Levine, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, has agreed to teach comparative media law in the Law Center’s Lyon Summer Program. Levine is a partner in the firm of Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schultz in Washington, D.C., and a nationally recognized leader of the media bar.

Weiss also noted that 10 applicants will be interviewed in the coming days for several faculty positions. In addition, he announced that the faculty had voted to recommend granting tenure to Professors Ron Scalise and Andrea Carroll. They also voted to recommend the pair for full professorship. The recommendations of the faculty and Chancellor Weiss will now go to LSU’s System President John Lombardi and the Board of Supervisors for approval.

Weiss also gave a brief overview of the long-range planning process and announced that Eric Eden, director of admissions, would be leaving effective January 5, 2009, to take the same position at the University of Arizona. Beth Loup, associate director of admissions, will serve as interim director.

One of the first questions asked pertained to the use of the library by students from outside the law school. In general, Weiss said he thought the Law Center should be a hub for the rest of the LSU campus and that it was good for the law school to have students from around the University here every day of the week. Nevertheless, Weiss said some restructure of library guests might be needed to allow law students to study for exams. One student suggested putting up signs around the building to ask for quiet from visitors, while another suggested posting an official rules sheet for use of the library.

Another topic of discussion was one student’s concern with the Law Center’s lower median grade point average in relation to the higher medians at other schools. Weiss responded by saying he thought a grading system should make appropriate distinctions between students while also providing them with the best chance to gain employment following graduation. Weiss said that many students have questioned the impact of our grading system on their employment prospects and that students are well within their rights to ask that the system be studied.

The privacy and value of faculty evaluations was a topic that students brought up several times. Some felt that their privacy might be compromised when they complete online evaluations, and others questioned whether or not their input made a difference, particularly in regard to a faculty member with tenure. Weiss answered that the evaluations do have an effect on things like tenure evaluation, compensation, and promotions. He encouraged students to complete the evaluations and expressed confidence in the anonymity of the electronic process.

Other topics raised by and debated among the students present were the benefits of having mid-term exams, and the adverse effects of summer school on employment opportunities while in law school.