Archives for the month of: July, 2008

Thursday morning began for me with a session on “Revamping the Law School Curriculum.” It was focused on how different schools have moved to alter or revamp their curriculum, especially the first year. The moderator was Dean Dennis Honabach, Northern Kentucky University. The speakers were Dean Edward Rubin of Vanderbilt University Law School, Prof. John Sobieski of University of Tennessee, and Associate Dean Mark Niles of American University, Washington College of Law. This was a really interesting panel and I’m glad I attended.

Associate Dean Niles talked about integrated teaching and the notion of a first year elective in the spring. The motivation for those changes were to make the first year curriculum more helpful for other curriculum. In other words, to help the students prepare more for the upper-level classes and also for the practice of law. The integrated teaching was fascinating. The way it would work, for example, is the sections of the first years, the teachers who taught all the different subject areas would come together and teach in a coordinated manner so that the subjects they were talking about correlated or corresponded to those going on in other classes. They also came up with a joint problem that involved all the subject areas. The pedagogical reason for this is that in the practice of law you rarely have a torts problem, it has a lot of components to it and so they want us to think about the first year curriculum more globally. The second idea and sudden innovation there was an elective for students in the first year and there were 10 that students could choose from like international law, environmental, state regulation, there were just a number and those were a segway also into upper-level classes. Now the problem was coordinating if a student took that class what that meant for say environmental law in a second and third year and they’re still working through that and different professors have responded in different ways, but those are some interesting ideas.

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Wednesday the programs didn’t start until 1:00 p.m. which is also a nice touch to give people a chance to get out and see and do.  That morning I got dressed in some shorts and tennis shoes and took a long, long walk down to the city of Lake Worth.  The street name was Lake Street and you can walk along A1A there and I just took a long walk looking at all the different condos and the parks and the water, just quietly.  That felt great and then I came back and took a shower and had lunch, checked e-mails and returned phone calls.  It was really nice and a nice pace.  I actually got a little bit of a New York Times read before attending an afternoon session on “Dealing with Difficult Economic Times.”  The moderator was Prof. Christopher Pietruszkiewicz from Louisiana State University.  The speakers were Dean Hannah Arterian from Syracuse; Dean Daisy Floyd of Mercer; John Plummer, Assistant Dean of Administrative Services for Florida; and Dean John White of UNLV.

Dean Floyd talked about when you are in a financial crunch at your law school or because of the state economy, the most important thing is to keep your prospective and remain focused on the long term goal for the school and to do what you really need to assess your priorities.  You should have that done before an economic crisis arises because that way you know which things are most important and you know how to prioritize in terms of having to cut the budget.  The other thing she emphasized was making sure to communicate to key constituencies exactly the situation and the choices you’re making and why.

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Tuesday morning, bright and early, which is ironic after being up all night debating politics in the lobby bar, was Ann Killenbeck‘s presentation. She was on the New Scholars Workshop panel #6 on constitutional law and her talk was on diversity. Her thesis is that legal institutions need to do a better job of supporting the concept that diversity makes an important difference in the classroom and in legal education. She noted that there were flaws in a number of the studies presented to the Supreme Court and suggested that there was a need for additional research on that issue. She also pointed to the fact that there is pressure from the citizens of states where there have been referenda or valid initiative to do away with affirmative action and so the need to justify and given that sentiment that law schools need to be much more deliberate and careful in terms of justifying the value of diversity in the classroom. Professor Mark Killenbeck also attended the session as well.

Other members of Prof. Ann Killenbeck’s panel were Professor Anthony Schutz, University of Nebraska, who spoke on “The Dormant Commerce Clause Doctrine: Policing States’ Legislative Purposes in the Shadow of the Federal Commerce Power” and Prof. Mark Killenbeck provided him with some helpful questions and guidance on his paper. Professor Gilda Daniels from the University of Baltimore who spoke on “Voter Deception” which was a fascinating paper. If you have an interest in that, I would watch for that paper when it comes into print. And then Professor Ani Satz from Emory who spoke on “‘Equal Protection’ for animals.” The purpose of the New Scholars Workshop is to allow new scholars to vet their research and to get helpful comments and feedback from audience members so as you might imagine at a resort hotel in Florida at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, it was really neat that there were so many people in the audience to provide that guidance. The way the SEALS works is that each new scholar who is presenting a paper gets a mentor and they get very extensive comments from their mentor and the mentor may or may not be in the audience, I’ve seen the panels run different ways, but then the rest of the audience offers helpful encouragement and guidance as well. It’s a really good conference for new scholars. By the way, Professor Anthony Schutz from Nebraska has a real interest in working with other scholars in the agricultural law area and a very strong interest in that area so we need to have him meet our own (if he hasn’t) Professors Schneider and Kelley.

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Monday the flight to the SEALS Conference was at 10:15 a.m. For some reason, I had it in my mind that I had a lot longer to get ready and I left in the afternoon, so I had to call Claudia very early in the morning leaving a message at the Pilates studio that I wouldn’t be able to make it because I was still scrambling to get ready for the flight to SEALS. I got to the airport on time. There were no hang ups except that once I got there the flight from Northwest Arkansas to Dallaswo was delayed because of a maintenance log issue. Once we got that, I arrived in Dallas late, but the flight to Palm Beach was also late and it was delayed because of a maintenance issue by an hour and a half. So as is typical if you follow the blog, I tend to run into flight delays pretty regularly and in fact I think there was a New York Times article recently that said that the airlines are not doing very well on that issue generally, so it’s not surprising that I would encounter so many delays. Anyway, when I arrived at The Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Florida, actually technically it calls itself The Palm Beach Ritz-Carlton but it’s located in Manalapan, Florida. It’s a beautiful hotel and one of the cool things about it is that it’s high tech. I know that sounds like a strange thing to say about a hotel, but let me explain. First of all, if you sit at the desk to work there are plenty of plugs for road warriors with laptops, cell phone chargers, and all that, so they anticipated that. It’s adequately lighted, which is also a problem a lot of times in hotels, you’re trying to work and there’s just not enough light. If you notice, most hotels do not have overhead lights in the rooms, but this one had so many lights scattered throughout the room that it was easy to get work done. The other thing is that it has a, for lack of a better word, control console which is by the side of the bed. From there you can control the temperature of the room (heat and air), you can control all the lights in the room individually or together, you can turn on the radio; it’s really a cool thing. In addition to it being high tech, it’s just a pleasant hotel, very clean with excellent service. Apparently the summer is the slow season down here and the rates are also pretty reasonable, so if you’re looking for a summer vacation that’s not too much money in a nice hotel. The only issue is that it has a very limited dining menu, probably because it’s off season, but when you’re at a conference and you’re stuck and you don’t have much time or there’s not many places to walk to, the fact that you come back to such a limited menu every day is a little bit irritating, but it’s fine and the food is fine, so I digress.

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Sunday, it was great to be back in church at home after having been away for so long. We had a visiting pastor, but it didn’t matter because it was good to see old friends and to worship at home again. Afterwards, Mom and I went to breakfast with the breakfast bunch. Then we headed to the J.C. Penney, which was having a luggage sale, because Mom needed to replace hers. The last time she flew, a 9000 pound gorilla jumped up and down on her luggage and threw it off the plane. When we got it back it was in shambles. We were able to find good deal on a four piece set of luggage.

Now having travelled a bit, I have several simple rules when buying luggage. One rule is that the large bags have a handles on the top, the bottom, and the side so that when lugging them in and out of the car or off the luggage carousel, you can lift them. The second thing, of course, is that luggage must be on wheels. It’s also best if a suitcase has generous outside and inside pockets–particularly an inside pocket with plastic to hold things likely to spill or a wet swimsuit or wet items. Another feature I look for is that the luggage not be too heavy. The set should have connectors too, so that if you’re traveling alone and you have two bags, you can use the connectors to hook them all together and pull them through the airport. And, finally, luggage should not be black. It’s a pain looking for black luggage on the luggage carousel.

Anyway, we looked for luggage with all those criteria and Mom was lucky enough to find a chocolate brown set that met all our requirements. After our shopping spree, it was time to drop mom off and head home to prepare for a trip to the SEALS Conference first thing Monday morning.

Happy Birthday to Fred Chan and Chris Kelley!

As you might imagine, returning back to the office after such a long time away there was a lot of correspondence to catch up on and many meetings with most of the administrative team to be brought up to date on events since being away. Today I met with Don Judges who is chairing our strategic planning committee to get an update on the status of that group’s activities and to think about the survey that we will be sending out to a sampling of our alums and bar leaders. We will be working with the Survey Research Center on campus to accomplish this and to ensure a sound survey both in substance and sampling.

Prof. Flaccus stopped by to visit about the status of the courtyard gardens and we walked around to see where new plants needed to be ordered or plants needed to be replaced. We thought about additional plantings around the east side of the building and where the funding might come from to pay for those additional plants. Meanwhile on the home front, my air conditioning went out and I had to get home a little bit early to meet the air conditioning service technician to find out whether the news was bad or very bad. As it turned out, the unit which was the original unit in the house when it was built, was completely caput. That meant I was looking at replacing the entire unit. When the tech looked at the furnace he pointed out that it was also the original furnace. It had some pretty serious deficiencies, so it was best to replace it too, the idea being that the new units would help to pay for themselves in terms of energy efficiency over time, even though it was going to be an expensive proposition. Sigh. That was Monday.

Thursday morning I got up early. My flight was leaving at 9:00 a.m. or so and as part of her 75th birthday gift, I was taking my mom with me to Torrey Pines. She’s such a big Tiger Woods fan and she really wanted to see Torrey Pines and she had never been to LaJolla, California. I had to leave a little bit earlier because I had to stop and pick her up before we headed to the airport. We arrived at the airport in time but both our flights were delayed. In fact when we got to Dallas it was such a close connection that we had to make a “run” for it. I ended up sort of pulling mom a little bit through the airport. She and I both were winded by the time we got to our gate only to arrive there and find out that that flight was also delayed. We arrived so late at Torrey Pines that the other board members and the staff of the NALP Foundation had left for dinner before we got there, so we missed the arranged transportation. We checked in, took our luggage to our rooms, freshened up a bit and caught a cab into downtown LaJolla for dinner. The weather was beautiful in San Diego. I still felt a little bit tired, but I was glad I had napped on the flight from Heathrow and gone to bed right away when I returned home or it would have been pretty hard to make it Thursday.

The next day, Wednesday, July 16, it was time to return to Fayetteville. Carol and I had a flight that left at 1:00 p.m., so we were pretty much at the end of the cue for disembarkation. Our tags required us to meet in the Colony Lounge, but that wasn’t until 9:00 a.m. which was really late, at least in terms of the disembarkation procedure. We had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room and headed up to the Colony Lounge to wait to be allowed to disembark. Let me digress a bit. One of the things that happens the night before disembarkation is that you must take care of your tab. At the beginning of the cruise you provide either a credit card or a cash deposit for all your expenditures on the ship. Your door key card acts as a charge card. There are no cash transactions on the ship other than exchanging U.S. currency (for in our case, Euros). All the accounts are run the night before disembarkation and the bill slipped under the door. Those with an outstanding balance had to clear it up before being allowed to disembark. We were all fine with that. Back to the narrative, we got off the ship eventually and found that the Royal Carribean disembarkation process (at least on the Brilliance of the Seas) was very efficient.

I forgot to mention earlier that the last evening of the cruise was the time to tip the staff who served you during your cruise (i.e., your cabin steward, waiters, etc.). The cabin steward put envelopes in the room for the steward, the waiter, the assistant waiter, the head waiter (who we never met, so we didn’t know why we should tip him). There were suggested amounts for each of those crew members. Royal Carribean has an option to prepay your tips (so much per day), and we’d selected to do that so we were in good shape. We put a little bit of cash in the envelopes to give the people who had been good to us an extra tip. Our waiters, Navin and Vicky, had been very good to us for the duration of the cruise given that you might imagine we were a rowdy table. The way it worked if you prepaid was that you got a voucher and you put the voucher in the envelope that you handed that to the appropriate party.

We got off the ship, went to the baggage carousel and easily found our luggage. Our problem was not being reunited with our luggage, it was obtaining transportation to the airport. We waited in line for an hour and twenty minutes for a taxi because everybody gets off the ship that morning and the queue was incredibly long. One alternative would have been to take the cruise ship’s transportation to the airport. The problem with that was you went on a huge bus and you had to wait until everybody who was taking that bus gets on. In other words, it was like an airport shuttle that left once it was full. I’m not sure, but it seemed to me that it might be six of one and half a dozen of the other. I waited in the line and Carol stood up front with our luggage. Once I got to the front of the queue we hauled our luggage over and got in the taxi to the airport.

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The last day of the cruise was spent at sea which meant that there were a lot of activities on board. One of the main focuses of the newsletter that day was the disembarkation procedures which you don’t think about when you get on the ship, but it can make a great deal of difference at the end of the cruise when you have to make your flight connection and find your luggage. We found the disembarkation procedure on this cruise was very efficient. Each cabin received luggage tags of a certain color. Each color was assigned a place to go (to the lounge or theater or wherever) to wait to disembark the ship. Marjorie was leaving early so she had special colored tags. She was allowed to get off the ship early and her luggage was the first unloaded from the ship. Since Carol and I had a late flight the next day we weren’t very worried about that, but we had previously experienced before the pain of trying to find luggage once it was offloaded. On a previous cruise it was put in the luggage area in no certain order, but we were to find out the next day that Royal Carribean was very organized. The luggage came out on the same kind of baggage carrousels as at the airport. It was offloaded corresponding to the time you got off the ship. You put your luggage outside the door by (depending on the cruise line) 11:00 p.m., midnight or 1:00 a.m. It’s always late in the evening, so you have to be thinking about what things you can leave for your carry-on and what clothes you want to wear, otherwise all your stuff will be gone. Since you know that you’re going to be reunited with the luggage once you get off the ship, it doesn’t matter if you keep your toiletries overnight because you can put them back in your suitcase when you get off the ship. It’s the same thing with pjs. You just need a carry-on bag that is big enough to hold everything until you get off the ship and get reunited with your luggage. Since it was a day at sea we looked forward to relaxing. We fortunately had started packing earlier, a couple of days before the end of the cruise, knowing what it was like to try to get it all done at the last minute. I digress.

In preparation for returning to the real world, we all spent time checking e-mail, but afterwards we were determined to have one last relaxing day before we had to return to reality. I made my last walk around the Promenade Deck looking at the ocean and being very grateful for the opportunity to have had such a wonderful experience. We ate breakfast in the formal dining room as you might have guessed. There were a number of activities that day. Let me give you a sampling of them. There was a fitness class, rock climbing, miniature golf, tai chi, a caricaturist, a belly dance class, a beginner’s karate class, beginning piano lessons, an historical lecture on artists and musicians of Catalan, Barcelona, and a towel folding demonstration. Let me explain that last one. Every day in the room the towels would be folded in the shape of various animals. The towel folding demonstration was to explain how to do that, which was not very exciting to us. There was also a dollar origami class, Argentine tango dance class, and beginner Spanish class. That gives you an idea of some of the activities on board that last day of the cruise.

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The next morning we woke up docked in Naples, Italy. Our newletter described Naples as: “Not only picturesque, but one of the world’s greatest cultural centers filled with extraordinary works of art and architecture in the classical Greek and Roman styles. While here you will want to visit Pompeii, one of the most famous excavation sites in the world.” And in fact, that is exactly what we had opted to do on our excursion which was entitled “Taste of Sorrento and Pompeii.” In case you’re thinking “there seems to be this real food thing going on here,” you are absolutely right. We did pick several excursions that had tasting experiences. Our excursion booklet had this to say about Sorrento: “Sorrento is a popular resort destination due to its charming atmosphere, breathtaking location and local cuisine. Combining a visit to Sorrento with the moving archeological ruins of Pompeii makes this tour an unforgettable experience.” We were looking forward to it.

Specifically, one of the things that drew us to this particular excursion was that once we got to Sorrento we were to visit a local farmhouse nestled in the hills. There a family produced mozzarella cheese, fresh vegetables, olives and lemons, and that sounded pretty promising to us. We were to enjoy some demonstrations and a taste of mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, salami and bread in a peaceful setting of lemon and olive trees. It turned out to be as good as we expected. This was a long excursion, about nine hours. As we later came to find out, it was a good thing we started with a leisurely morning because the end of the day was well, not so much. Now I know that Naples had been described as a center of culture and art, but the view that we saw upon arrival was not one that would encourage me to return, I’m sorry to say. It looked pretty bleak and sad. It had the feeling of a neglected port city. I don’t think the weather helped much either because it was overcast the city had a feeling of real gloominess. It also had a hard edge to it. Maybe that first impression was not an accurate one, but it certainly was striking and memorable.

Our route to Sorrento from Naples took us via the Autostrada and the Campanian coastal route to Sorrento. This was a really lovely drive and we stopped several times for photos looking down at the Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline on the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula of Italy in the province of Salerno. It extends from Positano in the west to Vietri sul Mare in the east. For a little bit more about the Amalfi Coast, see the website http://www.amalficoast.com. We stopped at several outlooks to take picture of the beautiful coastline. Afterwards, we wound up the hills through the town of Sorrento where our tour guide pointed out our future meeting point after our visit to the farmhouse. We then wound through town up to the farmhouse. It was exactly as it had been described, a peaceful little farmhouse nestled amidst olive and lemon trees.

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