Emeritus Faculty Association news March 2015
Friday March 6th, 10.30am Javits Room, 2nd floor library.
Chair of political science, Jeffrey Segal will talk on Why the Countermajoritarian Difficulty Isn't so Difficult.
The Supreme Court's power of judicial review enables it to strike laws passed by our democratically elected representatives. Yale Law Professor Alexander Bickel famously referred to this as the countermajoritarian difficulty. This difficulty poses theoretical problems for a nation where ultimate sovereignty rests in We the People of the United States. I show that the appointment process via the President and the Senate keeps the Supreme Court responsive to the national mood.
Bio: Jeffrey Segal is Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science. For 2011-12 he was Senior Visiting Research Scholar at Princeton University. He also held a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2011-12. Segal is best known, with Harold Spaeth, as the leading proponent of the attitudinal model of Supreme Court decision making. Segal has twice won the Wadsworth Award, for the book (The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model, 1993, Cambridge University Press, with Harold Spaeth), and the article (Predicting Supreme Court Cases Probabilistically: The Search and Seizure Cases, 1962-1981, 1984) Although these are 10 years old and more, they had lasting influence on law and courts. Segal's work on the influence of precedent (Majority Rule or Minority Will, Cambridge University Press, 1999, also with Harold Spaeth) won the C. Herman Pritchett Award for best book on law and courts. His work on the influence of strategic factors on Supreme Court decision making won the Franklin Burdette Award from APSA. With Lee Epstein, Kevin Quinn and Andrew Martin he won Green Bag's award for exemplary legal writing. He has also won an award sponsored by the American Bar Association for innovative teaching and instructional methods and materials in law and courts.
Optional additional reading:(ed):
(1) Uncertain Justice: the Roberts court and the constitution, Lawrence Tribe and Joshua Matz, Holt & Co, 2014.
Anthem, Inc., the parent organization for the Empire Plan and the NYSHIP Empire BlueCross BlueShield HMO has reported an extensive security breach of their member data. Names, dates of birth, member IDs/Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and employment information of current and former members were impacted. Anthem will send letters to impacted members with an offer of free credit monitoring and identity protection services.
NYSHIP recognizes that enrollees are concerned about this situation and that they will have questions about their personal information. Please direct inquiries to http://www.anthemfacts.com . The web site includes a FAQ and will be updated as additional information becomes available.
Also, emeritus members who may have been impacted by this cyber attack against Anthem should be aware of scam email campaigns targeting current and former Empire BlueCross BlueShield and Empire BlueCross members. These scams, designed to capture personal information (known as phishing are designed to appear as if they are from Anthem, (Empire's parent company), and the emails include a click here link for credit monitoring. These emails are NOT from Anthem or Empire. DO NOT click on any links in email, reply to the email, open any attachments that arrive with email, or reach out to the senders in any way, including the supply any information on the website that may open if you have clicked on a link in email. Empire also is NOT calling members regarding the cyber attack and is not asking for credit card information or social security numbers over the phone.
Sacha Kopp, the new Dean of Arts and Sciences, spoke on his plans for that college. For this newsletter Dean Kopp graciously provided materials from a recent town hall presentation made to the College of A&S which lay out some of his ideas in a more formal way. But as this text covers many more topics than his talk to us, and was many times longer than the space we have for our emailed summary, we are instead providing access via a link: - on the website click here
In addition, in order to cover the presentation and audience discussion at our own meeting, we are providing the usual editor compiled summary below:
Dean Kopp first gave a little background from his experiences at the university of Texas (full bio in last issue). Currently at 53,000 students, this is much larger than SBU. Consequently what is here subsumed under one deanship is there divided into three: Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, and Natural Sciences(his college). After the supreme court in 1997 shot down affirmative action based on race, the Texas legislature under Governor George Bush replaced it with the "ten percent law" - that students in the top tenth of each high school were guaranteed a place in the flagship college at Austin. (Ed note: better replaced with court approved affirmative action based on class?). UT eventually came to think of the Bush law as an asset, but it did lead to a high stakes atmosphere especially among students from immigrant families. In William Deresiewicz's new book Excellent Sheep (see review http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/13/books/excellent-sheep-william-deresiewiczs-manifesto.html), a similar phenomenon is discussed regarding students at elite universities such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, (the author calls them HYPSters) - blinkered over-achievers who in their high school years were unable to do anything that could not go on their resumes, and continued that way through college on their way to jobs lined up in finance or consulting. Rather, Dean Kopp would like students to use college as an opportunity to try out different things while not neglecting the broad background in both arts and sciences which should be the attribute of any truly educated person. So within the college of arts and sciences he must be concerned with encouraging faculty interaction across department lines and balancing funding in an environment where outside support for liberal arts fields is scarcer than for the sciences. Regarding UT Austin, Dean Kopp also mentioned another aspect: - the football program budget was in fact as large as that of the entire arts and sciences! (Ed note: a cautionary reminder for SBU going forward?).
Coming now to his early impressions of SBU: Compared with Texas, NY state college entrants have lots of choices. Dean Kopp's plumber is sending his child to Cornell, but as one alumnus told him: "To an uninformed outsider, it is difficult to know the difference between Stony Brook, CUNY, NYU, or Hofstra". That is remarkable, since these are all very different institutions serving valuable, albeit very different, missions. Further while the mission of the Colleges of Engineering, Business, Journalism, or Marine and Atmospheric Sciences might be well understood, the mission of the College of Arts and Sciences is less understood.
So how should we best project ourselves as an institution? And as a college what is our contribution to the campus? How do we see our role? In what directions should we grow? He then opened the floor for our comments and suggestions. (Ed note: Here Dean Kopp took advantage of the emeritus - in the best sense)
Audience responses covered the following topics:
SBU is seen and projects itself principally as a science school, witness the current website leaders currently cycling on the screen behind the speaker! SBU must not be viewed merely as a professional school, nor the arts as a luxury.
There is a dearth of opportunities for faculty from different disciplines to socially interact, in particular SB seems to be the only research university which does not have a faculty club. (Dean Kopp response: - he already has been scheduling meetings with assistant and associate profs across disciplines). Some departments tend to be in competition with each other. Eg: Chemistry lost a talented MRI researcher to Oregon because Medical Sciences took the credit for his grants. In fact encouraging interaction between disciplines is not a measure just to be handled within a college. Eg: the Computer Science department was born traveling backwards and forwards between CEAS and CAS, and once it got going its faculty were quite successful in seeking out and collaborating with their counterparts in colleges and institutes across both sides of Nichols Road.
One of the attractions of SBU is it's relatively low cost. But with some justification, people think of it as having very large introductory classes. Also, talented students who are the first in family to go to college (or who had to drop out of school to help support that family) have extra hurdles (your correspondent can vouch for the difficulties of this). It might be more important for such students not to live at home, if assistance for the extra cost can be found. Apparently Hofstra has special instruction for councillors.
SBU graduate makes good
Congratulations are due to Applied Mathematics and Statistics graduate Carl Heastie, Bronx Democratic organization leader and 8 term assemblyman, now the newly elected leader of the NY State Assembly.