Thursday, December 31, 2015
Kodak believed its brand was so strong that they were impervious to competition. They turned down the opportunity to become an official sponsor at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. This gave competitor Fujifilm, a company looking for a foothold in the American market, the chance they needed to increase their market share. This missed opportunity by Kodak gave Fujifilm the push it needed to sustain its U.S. business and to overtake Kodak. Other factors that took Kodak down was a failure to continue creating new products, a culture of complacency, and a belief that the good times would never end.
In 1981, a Kodak executive named Vince Barabba completed a study that pointed to digital as being a real threat to Kodak's existing business model. But, on the bright side, Barabba said that the company had 10 years until digital technologies would become a viable threat. So what did Kodak do? Not much. The company was actually a pioneer in the field of digital photography, producing a prototype digital camera in December of 1975. But Kodak's huge margins on photography supplies, which reached up to 70%, were too enticing. The company commissioned many products that were "digital props" for its core physical film business, such as the Advantix camera. As other companies like Canon overtook them, the complacency of Kodak's leadership caused the company to fall to where it is now: a bit player in a commoditized industry.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Tracking the dramatic decline of LSAT scores at the 25th percentile for incoming law school classes, 2010-2015.
The charts below show the distribution of changes in scores at the 25th percentile for classes entering law school between 2010 and 2015 and the number of schools where the 25th percentile score dipped below 150.  I also list the schools that lowered their 25th percentile score by four points or more during that period, a dispiritingly long list. I assume that this data will be published shortly at Law School Transparency, but I wanted to get it out there as soon as possible given that the application season is in full swing.
I note specifically the staggering 10-point LSAT decline experienced by Brooklyn Law School (BLS) at the 25th percentile, placing it in a two-way tie for the steepest decline of any law school in the country. BLS Dean Nicholas Allard has led the effort to place the blame for falling bar passage rates on Moeser and the NCBE, rather than on law school admissions practices. Allard’s noxious fog of bluster and accusations can be dispelled with the following three words: "Ten point decline."
A few years ago, Paul Campos wrote a book called "Don’t Go to Law School (Unless)." A possible alternate title for this blog post might be "If You Must Go to Law School, For God’s Sake Don’t Go to ( )." "( )" would include the vast majority of those schools that reacted to the dropoff in applicants by substantially lowering their admissions standards, especially those where the admissions standards were pretty low to begin with. The Deans and unprotesting tenured faculty at these schools have displayed a level of greed, recklessness, and contempt unworthy of professionals.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Indiana Tech turns out to have a reason for this move: ABA accreditation. According to scam-dean Cercone, the ABA intimated that Indiana Tech was insufficiently selective: its "admission standards going forward needed to be more in line with standards for other new law schools". Cercone concluded that a "stronger … student profile" would favor accreditation.
But Indiana Tech cannot bet the farm on a three-point increase in median LSAT score. Right after its failed bid for accreditation, it brought in a scamster named John Nussbaumer as its "new Associate Dean for ABA Accreditation and Bar Preparation". Nussbaumer went to Indiana Tech with "31 years of full-time faculty experience at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, including 18 years in senior academic leadership positions".
Now, Nussbaumer wasn't hired for his ability to dot every i and cross every t on the application. No, two other notable factors got him lured away from his sinecure at Cooley. First, he has experience in winning accreditation for other law schools: "[h]e has appeared more than a dozen times before the ABA Accreditation Committee and Council of Legal Education, helping lead successful efforts to secure provisional and full approval for three different law school branch campuses" (presumably a reference to Cooley). Second, and undoubtedly more important, he is an insider in the ABA accreditation scam:
He has served as a member of the ABA Section of Legal Education Diversity Committee, and he is currently a fact-finder and site inspection team member for the ABA Accreditation Committee. He has worked collaboratively on accreditation issues with the staff of the ABA Managing Director’s Office, including Managing Director Barry Currier, and has also worked on accreditation issues with the ABA House of Delegates, the ABA Standards Review Committee, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific, and Progressive Caucuses.With its hired gun Nussbaumer, Indiana Tech can be expected to—ahem—procure accreditation just in time for the graduation of its inaugural class. But how much is this costing the parent university?
A few years ago, when the building of this law school was announced, Indiana Tech University had a $40M endowment. I conservatively estimate outlays of $6M per year for the law school. (If the average salary is $100k and other charges such as benefits and payroll taxes add half of that, the 28 employees cost $4.2M per year.) Had the law school succeeded at bringing in 100 students in each class and maintaining its annual tuition at $30k, by now it would have been reaping $9M per year in income. Discounts on tuition would have reduced that figure, but the theoretical annual surplus of $3M could have made up for many discounts, shortfalls in enrollment, and other deficiencies.
In its first year, Indiana Tech was quite stingy with discounts. Only one person got half of tuition waived, and his "discount" actually exceeded tuition. (I'm willing to bet that he was Felts, the boy who on Indiana Tech's Web site posed in an unprofessional orange-yellow necktie and announced that people should "certainly" attend Indiana Tech on the advice of a local judge—without mentioning the significant fact that that judge happened to be his father.) So probably the people who approved the establishment of the law school calculated that the thing would break even at 75 students per year (¾ of the anticipated 100), maybe even fewer, and that in any event the university would cover any shortfalls for the first five or six years.
Instead, total enrollment has not yet come close to the figure anticipated for the first class alone, and tuition is now at zero. The university must be covering just about the entire cost of operating its toilet law school—not to mention the cost of two bids for ABA accreditation. That's one hell of a drain on an endowment that several years ago stood at $40M. And the rest of the university depends on that endowment, too.
On top of all that, the university now has to pay for an "Associate Dean for ABA Accreditation and Bar Preparation" who was approaching retirement from a cushy job at Cooley. For how long can the university afford to sustain its financial sinkhole of a law school? The endowment must be badly depleted, and the law school won't be viable even if (rather, when) it becomes accredited. Expect this toilet to be flushed once and for all within two or three years.
Thanks to Dybbuk for much of the information that inspired today's article.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Recall that Indiana Tech eliminated tuition this year (although the 509 report above does not show that fact) and that this past summer it announced the hope that 20 people would enroll in first year. Why did Indiana Tech miss that target? Did too few people apply?
No: Indiana Tech got 99 applicants. Yet it accepted only 31! What was wrong with the other 68 applicants? Were they all so unspeakably horrible that Indiana Tech, where 143 is a "serviceable" LSAT score, couldn't possibly consider them?
To answer those questions, compare this year's 509 report to last year's:
In particular, look at the following data:
2015: 99 applicants, 31 were offered admission, 13 matriculated
2014: 96 applicants, 78 were offered admission, 35 matriculated
Undergraduate GPAs (75th, 50th, and 25th percentiles):
2015: 3.61, 3.42. 2.99
2014: 3.15, 2.85, 2.49
LSAT scores (same percentiles):
2015: 153, 151, 148
2014: 151, 148, 142
A few observations:
The number of applicants in each year did not change significantly, but the rate of offers dropped from 81% in 2015 to 31% in 2014. In one short year, during which it failed to achieve accreditation, Indiana Tech went from open admissions to moderate selectiveness. That change is unprecedented.
Moreover, its GPAs shot up more than half a grade point, and its LSAT scores too increased dramatically. Only a few law schools avoided a drop in their median LSAT score. A three-point increase was rare indeed.
We can also reasonably infer that the calibre of Indiana Tech's applicants in general did not suddenly improve. The failure to achieve accreditation would have deterred most of the (ahem) better applicants. In addition, Indiana Tech would not have had to eliminate tuition if it had become a hot commodity.
Putting these facts and inferences together, we get the most likely conclusion: Indiana Tech rejected the bulk of its core audience—the dullards with the "serviceable" LSAT scores and GPAs—to come across as progressing in quality. By admitting only the best of its generally dreadful pool of applicants, Indiana Tech could manipulate its GPA and LSAT figures upwards. And why not? There was no cost to Indiana Tech: revenue was going to be exactly the same—nil—whether Indiana Tech admitted a baker's dozen of applicants or all 99.
Expect to see bullshit propaganda about "progress" and even "excellence" at Indiana Tech. But don't believe the hype.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
More below the fold.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Indiana Tech lawprof andre douglas pond cummings writes fawning law journal article comparing a better-known fellow lawprof with hip hop musician Ice Cube
a. andre douglas pond cummings
- "When Professor Delgado published The Imperial Scholar, its impact was a literary shot across the bow of the traditional legal academy in its aggressive repudiation of entrenched White male civil rights legal scholarship. Like a hand grenade launched into the upper reaches of an ivory tower, Delgado authored a blistering critique that condemned famed civil rights scholars for their own racism and failure to garner, appreciate, or represent the views of the very oppressed minority groups on whose behalf these scholars purported to advocate." andre douglas pond cummings, Richard Delgado and Ice Cube: Brothers in Arms, 33 Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice 321, 332 (2015).
- "From the movement’s inception, Critical Race theorists championed storytelling and narrative as valuable empirical proof of reality and the human experience, while rejecting traditional forms of legal studies, pedagogy, and various forms of civil rights leadership. Similarly, hip-hop, at its root, is narrative in form; the best, most recognizable hip-hop artists use storytelling as their most fundamental communicative method." Id. at 324.
- "[M]any CRT pioneers employed counterstories, parables, chronicles, and anecdotes aimed at revealing the contingency, cruelty, and self-serving nature of majoritarian rule. Similarly, hip-hop revolves around storytelling." Id. at 326.
- "The assault on the rear flanks [of the status quo] was the clarion call to every scholar of color and emerging outsider scholar and lawyer to a new and different conceptualization by which legal scholarship could be presented and legal practice conducted." Id. at 334.
- "Ice Cube, in the same narrative format championed by Richard Delgado, spun tales and stories in his rhymes." Id. at 338.
- "Professor Delgado and N.W.A./Ice Cube both expose and decry racism, inequality, and oppression with passion and explosiveness through deeply personal narrative." Id. at 339
- "Both Delgado and N.W.A. identify "the cure" to their detailed experiential ills as furious storytelling—Delgado in A Plea for Narrative and N.W.A. in Fuck tha Police and Gangsta Gangsta." Id.
- "Through narrative storytelling and funky bass lines, CRT and hip-hop seek to educate, inspire, and motivate a generation." Id. at 340.
- "When Professor Delgado’s influence is compared to that of Ice Cube, the hip-hop generation will understand the depth of this homage." Id. at 341.
Friday, December 4, 2015
|Sigh. Some people never learn.|