UCLA Law School Chair in Sexual Orientation Law:

I just learned that the UCLA School of Law will have — thanks to a $1 million gift — a chair in sexual orientation law. I expect that my colleague Bill Rubenstein, one of the nation's leading scholars of sexual orientation law, will fill it, though that's just my guess.

Note that $1 million isn't enough to add a whole new faculty position: The money will just result in the creation of a title for a worthy academic, and the money will either be used for general law school programs, or specially routed to programs and research related to the subject matter. At UCLA, though not at some other schools, a professor's holding a chair does not mean that he personally gets some of the money that the donors gave.

I'll likely be on KSLR-AM (630) in San Antonio today from 4 to 4:30 Central talking about the chair. I'm naturally delighted that the school has gotten the donation, that my colleague will get a well-deserved honor, and that sexual orientation law — an obviously important subject, given the range of legal questions (sodomy laws, substantive due process, marriage, choice of law, employee benefits, child custody law, wills and trusts law, tax law, don't ask/don't tell, and so on) in which sexual-orientation-and-the-law questions arise — is being studied in the legal academy generally and at my institution in particular.

For my own, quite limited, work in sexual orientation law, see Same-Sex Marriage and Slippery Slopes, 33 Hofstra Law Review 1155 (2006), which I'm delighted to say received a Jesse Dukeminier Award (as one of the best sexual orientation law articles of 2006) from the Williams Institute.

UPDATE: I was supposed to be on for about half an hour, but it turned out that they weren't getting any calls on the subject, so it got cut short at about 20 minutes (just fine by me). Maybe I just persuaded all the listeners.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Speaking of Chairs:
  2. UCLA Law School Chair in Sexual Orientation Law:
Speaking of Chairs:

Here's a short story by Julius Getman that I still remember fondly -- pretty insightful, I think, about how the academy works.

The Price of a Chair


In accordance with [Dean] Engle's instructions, the prospect of increasing Nunzio's contribution to the school did not come up during the awards ceremony, the cocktail party that preceded it, or the dinner that followed. But we heard from one of his partners that Nunzio had said, "Engle is bound to put the arm on me soon. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, and one thing I learned was that you guys never leave anyone with money alone. It doesn't matter though, 'cause he's in for a surprise when he tries me." ...

Nunzio's face broke into a smile. "... I want you to know that I've been thinking about making a major gift to the law school. Dean Engle, how much would it cost to endow one of your fancy new professorships?"

The dean smiled broadly and for a brief moment laughed the delighted laugh of someone whose fantasy is about to be realized, but he quickly regained his composure, and when he answered, his expression was serious, almost grave. "The new ones start at about one million. Of course if you add a full-time secretary, travel, and research funds you're probably talking about something closer to two million. I know that sounds like a lot, but you have to realize ..."

Nunzio broke in before Engle could finish. "I would expect to add money to acquire books, papers, and translators, and also probably an addition to the library to house the new materials, so I suppose were now talking about three or four million dollars."

My immediate reaction was that this was too good to be true. I noticed that Engle's face showed more suspicion than delight. "Tell me more precisely what kind of professorship you have in mind, and what kinds of controls over the money do you expect to have?"

Nunzio looked at us as though amazed by the question. His face was as innocent as a first-year law students. "It would be a professorship in comparative government, and I wouldn't expect to control any aspect of the expenditure after the person is selected. The only requirement is that the chair be named for and involve study in the ideas of Benito Mussolini, whom I consider one of the most misunderstood thinkers of our time." ...

For the rest of the story, see here. Just to make it perfectly clear, I do not think that a Mussolini Chair and a Chair in Sexual Orientation Law are substantively analogous -- they're just both chairs, and thinking of the latter made me think about the former (since there are so few good stories about academic chairs out there).