All this means the law school must be currently losing a whole lot of money. How much? Well those 43 faculty are costing the school close to ten million per year in salary and benefits, which means the school’s total operating costs are probably well more than double that....Oooh - he's doing math. Here, Campos makes a number of unwarranted assumptions in his pursuit to play swivel-chair economist and "prove" UC-Irvine is suffering an operating loss in the millions.
Meanwhile, how much tuition revenue is the school pulling in this year? ...
[Its] 326 students are probably paying an average effective tuition rate this year in the mid to high 20s. Let’s say $27K per capita. That’s $8.8 million dollars. UCI was given $20 million by real estate mogul Donald Bren to found the law school, but that money has probably already been burnt through in large part to buy the school’s first few classes (the original class paid no tuition, and subsequent classes paid, and continue to pay, drastically less than list price). Of course the school has no endowment to speak of beyond that original nest egg, nor is it getting anything in annual giving from its as yet almost completely hypothetical alumni base. So that pretty much exhausts the sources of law school revenues (grants and contracts, so critical to the funding of academic departments which do work that the outside world is actually willing to pay for, remain rare in legal academia).
Sure, he's drawing straightforward, rational conclusions from what is objectively known.
But I have a theory of my own. As we all know, the U.S. News rankings were recently released. Chemerinsky's UC Irvine went from totally unranked to 30th in the country. In doing so, they smoothly leapfrogged Campos' University of Colorado - which is a paltry 40th. Colorado law professors on average make about half of what Chemerinsky does and they're living in Colorado instead of the hippity-hoppin' O.C. And Chemerinsky has a whole constitutional law textbook with his name on it.
So my theory, which is mine, came up with by me, brackets, I own it, brackets, is that Prof. Paul Campos started with a little bit of envy for the great things Dean Chemerinsky is doing at Irvine, and now it's grow to a BIG envy for the great things Dean Chemerinsky is doing at Irvine. This is causing him to seek out perfectly objective data and reach journalistic conclusions regarding the financial state of UC Irvine.
The good news is that my theory postulates an end to Prof. Campos' uncontrolled jealousy of Dean Chemerinsky. At some point, he will realize he simply cannot be as awesome as Dean Chemerinsky.
Can you see Paul Campos huckstering it up and blowing $10 million a year on a vanity law school? Can you see him take the necessary steps to tell the administration there is still a need for another 2nd Tier law school in southern California? Can you see him continue to hire full-time faculty as it becomes clearer that the school's ideal target pool is shrinking rapidly?
No, of course you cannot. Paul Campos has a sense of objective reality and a moral pulse. He's not going to do the necessary hustling and scheming to open such an ambitious and ill-fated institution. He's not going to have the balls to keep hiring more and more faculty as the market dries up.
It takes a special vision to be Erwin Chemerinsky and understand that losing money now is worth it because, at some point, UC-Irvine will be on par with Stanford and its alumni network will be a machine of donations as the school continues to be an innovative educational leader in the greater Los Angeles area. You've got to be insane - which Campos likely is - but it's a particular type of insanity that says, "No, I don't care if the legal market in California is like a bad Botox injection; I'm going to open a new law school and spend so much money it becomes elite because we don't already have any of those in-state."
Sure, losing what sounds like millions every year sounds bad now. But if Irvine can weather the current cyclical recession and wait out a few dozen other law school closures first, it may be in an excellent position to serve the people of Orange County long-term and possibly break even if it brings in enough students. That's the sort of long-term vision that only comes with a lifetime commitment to public service, a particularized comprehension of constitutional principles, and an unparalleled institutional vision.
Campos simply doesn't have it, or else he would have spearheaded U. of Colorado-Colorado Springs Law School by now. 400k people and no law school - it's like these people don't know golden opportunities when they see them. A law school in Colorado Springs could easily lose millions a year, but there Campos sits, blogging honest, useful journalism from his little keyboard.
In fact, I have a theory of how U. of Colorado-Colorado Springs Law School (UCCSLS) would play out. It would be small in the beginning, then get really really big, then keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Just like the prospects of UC-Irvine and its nascent alumni ranks.