Some 88 professors (increased from 70, and then increased again from 86) at Texas Tech University have signed a petition protesting the hiring of former U. S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The petition was started by long time ethics professor Walter Schaller, not unlike the earlier faculty protests against John Yoo being hired at Berkeley. Perhaps it is just me, but to have that many potential colleagues protest in writing seems a pretty strong statement about how Gonzales is accepted, or more precisely rejected by his would be peers.
There are other unusual aspects to the hiring of Gonzales. For example, he is NOT being hired to teach law, despite that being his area of expertise. Gonzales former law firm would not take him back; and no one else in the private sector has expressed a desire to hire him, which certainly reflects on his abilities as a lawyer. And Gonzales is writing a book, but as yet has no publisher willing to print it, unlike other Bush administration alumi.
His one class, so far, consists of only 15 students, although there is talk about expanding the class size. His first day of class is August 31; it promises to be a hot one, and not only because it is in Texas, in the heat of summer.
Besides teaching, his other duties involve recruiting minority students. (Maybe it is just me who wonders this, but why would anyone seek the help or endorsement of a guy who left public service in such disgrace, who can’t get a regular academic job, and who is so despised by the other professors.)
Further, Gonzales was not even hired at Texas Tech through the normal channels; he was hired by the Chancellor, which is apparently highly unusual. This certainly suggests that the hire for the one class of fifteen students was some sort of ‘good ol’ boy network favor’ employment. Some are terming it a ‘celebrity hire’.
While the signers of the petition do not realistically hope to see Gonzales removed from teaching this fall, the reason so many have signed is that there is a concern that Gonzales might be kept on for future teaching. The petition itself can be viewed in a pdf at www.//:lubbockonline.com/pdfs/07-25petition.pdf As a context, Chancellor Hance claims the school has roughly 1,400 faculty members. The objections in the petition fall into two categories, ethical objections, and academic objections.
According to the petition, for teaching the one class to only fifteen students, and the nebulous ‘outreach’ to minority students, Gonazales will be paid…. $100,000.00. It is noted in the petition that for that amount of money, “two top visiting professors could be hired from the best universities in the world.” It should be noted, that so far as I can determine, and so far as the signers of the petition were aware… Gonzales apparently has never taught a class before, not a graduate class, not an undergraduate. The petition specifically questions whether he even knows how to teach.
I find that an interesting fact in view of Gonzales receiving such a very large salary for teaching only 15 students. Nice work if you can get it.