Sullivan, Warren and the purity of Left Academia

Sorry to drop this one on you mid-evening.

The news:

Early Sunday morning, the University of Virginia sent out a notice announcing that the Executive Committee of the Board of Visitors would have an “emergency closed meeting” at 2 p.m. “to consider amending the contract of a university employee.”

A little later, the university announced that Teresa A. Sullivan would be leaving the presidency on August 15, after only two years in office, by mutual agreement with the board.

Nothing to do with the underlined?

Sullivan was the first woman to lead the University of Virginia, which didn’t admit women as undergraduates until the time she was earning her bachelor’s degree in 1970. A sociologist by training, Sullivan held high-ranking positions at leading public research universities (vice president and vice provost at the University of Texas at Austin, executive vice president for academic affairs of the University of Texas System, and provost of the University of Michigan) before being named to the Virginia presidency.

Nothing to do with this?

She also resisted many of the efforts of Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II to obtain records of a former faculty member who works on climate change. Cuccinelli argued that the records might show flaws in climate change research while many academic groups argued that he was trying to intimidate researchers who hold the consensus view that climate change is real. The Virginia Supreme Court in March backed the university’s position that Cuccinelli did not have a right to all of the papers.

Surely nothing to do with this?

In the middle of all this, during Sullivan’s brief tenure, we have UVa spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal contortions trying to prevent Mann’s UVa emails from seeing the sunlight of FOIA requests.

Or this?

In 1990, Rutgers Professor Philip Shuchman charged Elizabeth Warren, along with Teresa A. Sullivan (above), the President of University of Virginia who resigned unexpectedly yesterday, and Jay Westbrook, her two co-authors of the 1989 book, As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America, with “scientific misconduct.” Within a few months, Warren’s friends and former colleagues at the University of Texas quickly completed an error-filled investigation.

A little matter of concealing data so that it was unverifiable, I believe. In the footnote to [the charge], Shuchman noted:

A common instance of misconduct in science occurs when “there [is] no way to verify whether or not [the] research was accurate.’ Woolf, Deception in Scientific Research, 29 Jurimetrics J. 67, 83 table 5 n.4 (1988).

The 1991 University of Texas secret report that “exonerated” Elizabeth Warren never asked this simple question:

Did the authors arrange matters so that they could not provide access to the computer printouts by case, with corresponding bankruptcy court file numbers, thus preventing any independent check of the raw data in the files from which they took their information?

Never asked the question, n-o-o-o-o-0. Still, as the academics in the comments thread urge – let’s all move swiftly on. After all, they’re national icons, these two, are they not? Elizabeth herself is a fine upstanding person:

On April 26, 2012 the Boston Herald reported that in the 1990s Harvard Law School had, in response to criticisms about the lack of faculty diversity, “touted” Warren’s claim of having Native American ancestry.[46] Shortly afterwards the Herald discoveed that Warren had listed herself as a minority from 1986 to 1995 in a directory of law professors often used by law recruiters to make diversity-friendly hires.[47][48][49] The Brown campaign, the Native American Rights Fund,[50][51] and others have questioned her motives and the propriety of the claim.[52][53][54][55][56][57]

Genealogist Chris Child at the New England Historic Genealogical Society found no one in Warren’s immediate ancestry who listed themselves as not white, but added that further back than 150 years, the records are complicated and may take months to research. Child also noted that finding Native American lineage is difficult, and that “Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama claim to have Native American heritage, but we were never able to find evidence of that.”[46][58][59][60] Warren said that she had heard family stories about her Cherokee ancestors her entire life,[61] and had hoped the directory listing would create opportunities to meet people like her …

Y-e-e-e-s-s-s, rigorous academic standards, eh? Rigorous, I tell you:

It’s a pattern laid out by Meghan McArdle in July 2010, Considering Elizabeth Warren, the Scholar.

But while I found the thesis compelling, there were some problems with the book. The first is that Warren simply fails to grapple with what her thesis suggests about the net benefits of the two-earner family. Admittedly, I don’t quite know what to say either, but at least I can acknowledge that it’s a pretty powerful problem for the current family model; Warren kind of waves her hands and mumbles about social programs and more supportive work environments. There is no possible solution outside of a more left-wing government.

But the deeper problem is that some of her evidence doesn’t really support her thesis, and can be made to appear to support her thesis only by making some very weird choices about what metrics to use….

That’s a pattern I see over and over in her work. In her (in)famous paper on medical bankruptcies in 2001, Warren and her co-authors defined anyone with $1000 worth of medical bills as having a medical bankruptcy, and used that figure to imply that rising medical bills were pushing people over the financial edge. Now maybe they are, but you sure couldn’t prove it with that metric….

Does it matter? I think yes.

Warren has reached scholarly conclusions which she then parlays into a political platform. The interaction between the two is fair game in an election, as much as a candidate’s business or political experience.

What was that term which Sullivan used? Philosophical differences, was it not? And Warren’s never been up to any shenanigans, has she?

Now, the woman who claims to have created the “intellectual foundation” for Occupy Wall Street– notorious for its anti-foreclosure actions– is revealed to have made a small fortune flipping foreclosed homes in the 1990s.

The Boston Herald, which uncovered the findings, explains.

Lovely ladies, both of them. Makes one feel so … secure somehow … having them in charge.


On a completely different topic, Wiki has an article on the Cuckoo:

Many species are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species.

It’s like a non-academic hatching within academia who has no business being in there in the first place. The others tend to reject the alien life form, especially the Lesser Spotted Shuchman Bird, which takes exception to the Cuckoo.

[H/T Chuckles]

1 comment for “Sullivan, Warren and the purity of Left Academia

  1. Greg Tingey
    June 13, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Confidentiality IS important.
    Maybe Warren is wrong, maybe she is correct.

    Since she appears to be a sociologist, she is probably wrong (said this person trained as a Physicist & Engineer), but that is not the leag point, either.

    Your dragging in of GW is irrelevant.
    This is part of you “failure of science” collection of delusions.
    Please stop it.

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