preLaw - Winter 2011 - 11
ical undertones that sometimes infiltrate academics, but seem to be more focused upon what makes a good administrator or professor — not what political party they support. Kevin Washburn, dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law, said that politics doesn’t have much influence on how he does his job. Washburn refrains from making his political leanings known because he doesn’t want to influence or alienate any of his students, though he does see the value of talking politics in the classroom. “Political perspectives can be useful in helping students think about the law,” he said. “I play the devil’s advocate on both sides a lot in class.” Kevin Johnson, dean of the University of California Davis School of Law, follows Washburn’s lead by keeping his personal politics out of the classroom, but embracing political discourse as a way to stimulate in-class conversation. “When I teach my hope is to get the students to think critically about the material and think carefully about the issues raised by a judicial decision, statute or other legal rule,” he said. “I do not see this as either liberal or conservative, but simply a skill needed by a good lawyer. For me, exposing students to both sides of an argument often requires that I play the devil’s advocate, which may be labeled as liberal or conservative depending on the issue and the students’ responses.” The study’s findings suggest that conservative law professors may be more discreet about their political leaning early in their careers, the researchers said. “We are not very confident or completely unsure of the ideological leanings of nearly 60 percent of the new professors in our sample,” the report states. “This might be due to the fact that these professors are more moderate in their political ideology, or it might be because they have done a better job of keeping signals about their ideology protected from public eyes.” A recent study by the Center for Responsive Politics found that college
employees have overwhelmingly donated money to Democratic candidates. Employees of the University of California system gave 86 percent of their donations to Democrats. Harvard University fol-
lowed with 77 percent, and Stanford with 75 percent. The study found that the only colleges where employees gave more to Republican candidates were in the south — Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia.
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