February 28, 2006
Larry Summers and the Organizational Structure of Universities
Posted by Funmi

I wanted to first of all thank Gordon, Christine, and Vic for inviting me to be a guest.

I’m interested in how the resignation last week of Harvard President Lawrence Summers connects to research I’m doing.  I’m working on a paper with my colleague Andy Morriss about the organizational structure of law schools. As part of our work, we’re looking at the role of regulation by the ABA and AALS and comparing law schools to other university units (e.g., business schools, medical schools, colleges of arts and sciences, etc.). The recent events at Harvard raise some interesting questions for me about the organizational structure of universities. Does the organizational structure of universities have significant dysfunctional elements?  The boards of trustees of universities (in Harvard’s case, the Harvard Corporation) can hire and fire the President. But whom do they actually represent? Alums are a major source of revenue for many institutions, particularly Harvard. Where do they fit in and how much of an impact do they and should they have on operations? Students are the consumers who actually pay money to receive an education. Despite this don’t really have much of a voice in university operations. What role should students have? Finally, how does the fact that many faculty members have tenure influence the operation and dynamics of universities? If faculty members aren’t just employees, what exactly are they and what should be their role in the operation of universities? What about law schools? In what ways is the organizational structure of the law school similar to other units at universities? How does the Summers episode illuminate the above questions, and what generalizations (if any) can we draw from it?

Law Schools/Lawyering, Miscellany | Bookmark

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