Sunday, March 30, 2008

Clinton Campaign Returns to the Heady Days of "It Depends on what the Meaning of the Word 'Is' Is."

"Sen. Obama has often referred to himself as 'a constitutional law professor' out on the campaign trail. He never held any such title."
-- Clinton spokesman Phil Singer, March 27, 2008

"The Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as "Senior Lecturer." From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. *** Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined."
-- University of Chicago Law School, March 28, 2008


OneMan said...

When he ran for the Senate his web site refereed to him as a Senior Lecturer.

The Obama for Illinois no longer exists but I did blog about it at the time (how NPR kept calling him a law professor when his own site didn't refer to him that way)

When I try to follow the link on the internet wayback machine it takes me to his current site.

Just because they wanted him to be a professor doesn't make him one.

All that being said, yes Hillary is splitting hairs.

So-Called Austin Mayor said...

“Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” -- Wallace Sayre, Columbia University.


It is my personal belief that effective language should both a) maximize conveyance of information and b) minimize confusion.

In this case, it is my belief that the use of the word "professor" to describe Barack Obama's role at the University of Chicago Law School does both. It conveys his instructional relationship with the students of the U of C law school and it minimizes the confusion that would be injected by introducing the term "Senior Lecturer" to a general public unfamiliar with the pedantic, petty politics of higher education.

so-called "Austin Mayor"

OneMan said...


I see your point about the confusion.

When I taught at both the community college level (adjucant faculty) and for the University of Phoenix (on-line facilitator) they would always remind us that we were not professors and we were not supposed to use that term.

Yeah it is the "pedantic, petty politics of higher education" but it's one of those little things that it is better to be safe than attacked on.



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