Brian Leiter Headed for Chicago

Brian Leiter, Blogger-King of Philosophy and Law, to Move From Texas to Chicago
Robin Wilson
Chronicle of Higher Education
November 1, 2007

Brian R. Leiter tracks the comings and goings of high-profile scholars in philosophy and law, writing a couple of popular academic blogs that offer details on who is taking a job where.

But this time it is Mr. Leiter who is moving on, leaving his post as a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin after 13 years to be a professor at the University of Chicago’s law school. In fact, he plans to blog about it all today at his law-school blog and his philosophy blog.

The move isn’t exactly a surprise. Mr. Leiter, who is 44, visited Chicago in the fall of 2006 and has been weighing a change since then. Top on his list of reasons for the move: Chicago is creating a Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values, which he’ll direct and which he says will make philosophical work “a more central part of the law school.” Chicago’s primary focus is law and economics.

In addition, Chicago’s law school is ranked higher than Austin’s — something Mr. Leiter should know. He produces regular reports ranking both law and philosophy programs. The rankings often rile college officials but attract widespread attention in both fields. Mr. Leiter’s latest law-school report ranks schools according to the number of citations their scholars receive. It puts Chicago second and Austin 10th.

Of course, Mr. Leiter says he’ll miss his Austin colleagues but is eager to work with those at Chicago, including Martha Nussbaum, a philosopher who teaches at the law school.

Mr. Leiter was also drawn to Chicago for personal reasons. It has one of academe’s most generous tuition benefits for faculty children. Chicago covers the college costs of faculty children up to 75 percent of the value of Chicago’s tuition. Mr. Leiter has three young children, who will also attend the lab school on the campus.

Saul Levmore, the law dean at Chicago, says Mr. Leiter’s blogs might give some scholars a misimpression. “You think all he cares about is law-school gossip,” he says. But Mr. Leiter, he says, “is a great intellectual entrepreneur, and we like the energy he brings. He’s a most valuable player at Texas, and where he goes, students get very interested in his subject matter.”

Copyright 2007 Chronicle of Higher Education

Brian Leiter