Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Teach for Penn State

Jim Chen has renewed a discussion on MoneyLaw about law school naming rights in response to Berkeley Law's announcement that it is abandoning the Boalt name. He counts 33 US law schools that bear a name other than their host university, and suggests a NCAA style tournament among the schools (with a play in for the 33d) "[t]o see which schools' alternate names are the most obscure, the most confusing, and ultimately the most destructive of a simple marketing strategy that roughly 150 other law schools have no trouble following: [name of university] + Law. " Penn State University Dickinson School of Law appears in the East Regional.

With respect to those whose allegiance is divided, and with some liberties taken with the original text, here's what I say: I teach for Penn State. There is no name on my jersey. I teach with heart, with pride, to Win. For my colleagues, the students. I teach for those who came before me. For the glory of Old State. I teach for Penn State. WE ARE... PENN STATE.


Jeffrey H. Kahn said...

Cal should just name it the Sonsini School of Law and get it over with.

Alison M. Kilmartin said...

This summer I attended a conference that was attended by one student from each law school in the country. Sometimes when people asked me what school I was from I said, "Penn State Dickinson" and the response was always, "Where?" So then, I started responding to the question by saying, "I attend Penn State's law school." And the response was then always, "Wow, Penn State!" as if I had just said Harvard or Yale. Fascinating. The name "Penn State" has street cred., no doubt about it. WE ARE . . . PENN STATE!

Alison M. Kilmartin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly J. Bozanic said...

Prof. Reilly's statement, "for the glory of Old State," indicates to me that the importance of a name is that it creates a sense of belonging and tradition. We put great stock in names, because they are our banners, we build our history on them. It boils down to being a part of something which is greater than ourselves. Cal's decision to drop "Boalt" is saddening to me, because the name holds so much history for the University. Dean Edley's decision is favoring brand recognition over tradition, and tradition is the life blood of a school. As a marketing strategy, however, this decision is genius; not only will the school enjoy better brand recognition, the decision is certainly generating a lot of publicity.

Jim Chen said...

Hi Marie,

Thanks for highlighting my post on Red Lion Reports. Put simply, I think it makes the most sense to identify your school by the name that ordinary people use, say, in filling out their NCAA brackets. Imagine this Elite Eight:

* East: Beasley versus Dickinson
* Midwest: Moritz versus Quinney
* South: Brandeis versus Levin
* West: Boyd versus Rogers

Huh? Now imagine this:

* East: Temple versus Penn State
* Midwest: Ohio State versus Utah
* South: Louisville versus Florida
* West: UNLV versus Arizona

To pick a market far away from any of these schools, imagine an employer in Seattle or Dallas. That firm's hiring partner has probably never heard of Dickinson, Brandeis, Levin, or Beasley. But Penn State, Louisville, Florida, and Temple, we can only hope, are household names sea to shining sea.

Official names are what they are. Some schools got paid to accept an alternate name; others inherited them through a merger with a formerly independent entity. Still others have neither money nor history on their side. Regardless, the name that makes the most sense is the name of the university. Christopher Edley and Berkeley paid $25,000 for this bit of wisdom. At MoneyLaw -- and now Red Lion Reports -- we're dispensing comparable counsel for free.