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Inaugural symposium covers faculty work on working mothers, taxes on pro athletes and more

June 13, 2014

Tulane Law School faculty gathered for an inaugural symposium to share their scholarship

Tulane Law School faculty gathered for an inaugural symposium to share their scholarship

Associate Law Professor Elizabeth Townsend Gard discusses her work as Economics Professor Steve Sheffrin, an affiliated law faculty member, listens.

Associate Law Professor Elizabeth Townsend Gard discusses her work as Economics Professor Steve Sheffrin, an affiliated law faculty member, listens.

Professor Adam Babich emphasizes a point.

Professor Adam Babich emphasizes a point.

With views of the French Quarter and Mississippi River in the background — instead of the usual university quad outside the faculty lounge — Tulane Law School professors gathered in May to explore a provocative range of works in progress.

Associate Professor Saru Matambanadzo’s paper, “The Fourth Trimester,” argues that the particular needs and responsibilities of working mothers don’t end with a child’s birth — and the law’s anti-discrimination protections shouldn’t either.

Economics Professor Steve Sheffrin, an affiliated law faculty member and director of Tulane’s Murphy Institute of Political Economy, has shown that state tax policies drive NASCAR racers to live in just a few states while professional golfers’ homes spread more widely.

And Law Professor Robert Westley’s current project examines restitution claims for wrongful enslavement.

The day-long symposium, the first for Tulane law faculty, was designed to supplement and expand on the weekly lunchtime seminars at which professors critique the ongoing work of their colleagues and visiting scholars.

“The idea of the symposium is to dedicate a full day, away from the bustle of campus, to engage deeply with one another’s research,” said Dean David Meyer. “It sharpened the work, of course, but a broader benefit was that everyone came away with a renewed pride in our scholarly enterprise.”

“Our faculty are leaders in their fields, and this was a wonderful way to showcase the many different ways they are pushing the boundaries of knowledge.”

The May retreat also covered Professor James Gordley’s new book, The Jurists, published by Oxford University Press; Associate Professor Amy Gajda’s forthcoming book, The First Amendment Bubble, set to be published by Harvard University Press in January 2015; Associate Professor Elizabeth Townsend Gard’s work on “Copyright and the 21st Century Kid”; Professor Ed Sherman’s examination of the way courts have treated standing in lawsuits where plaintiffs might have been wronged but can’t prove current injury; and George Strickler’s look at the catch-all residual exception to the hearsay rule, which allows admission of statements that don’t fall into any of the many other exceptions.

Tulane Law School underscored its emphasis on faculty scholarship in 2013 with the appointment of Professor Adam Feibelman as associate dean for faculty research. In addition to organizing the First Annual Faculty Scholarship Symposium, Feibelman has taken the lead in promoting faculty members’ research and accomplishments and enhancing the range of workshops and lectures that Tulane sponsors.

Tulane Law School’s research mission recently received a boost with the creation of the Paul R. Verkuil Faculty Research Fund. The fund is being endowed by former Dean Paul Verkuil, who went on to serve as president of William & Mary and now chairs the Administrative Conference of the United States, and his wife, Judith Rodin, who is president of the Rockefeller Foundation and a former University of Pennsylvania president. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust also have contributed generously to the fund, whose goal is to provide additional research funding for “high-performing faculty members who present especially promising projects.”

Retired trial lawyer Gordon Gamm (L ’70) and his wife, Grace, also are supporting faculty endeavors through the Gordon Gamm Faculty Scholar award. It is designed to give early-career Tulane law professors resources to expand their research and engagement with other scholars and the broader public. Matambanadzo was been named the first Gordon Gamm Faculty Scholar during the spring semester and will host a major conference on anti-discrimination law in the October 2014 with support from the Gamms.

Gamm, who comes from a family of Tulane lawyers, practiced in Kansas City, Mo., and Boulder, Colo. He established the Bragg Symposium on Humanism in Kansas City and the Boulder International Humanist Institute.

“Thanks to the generous support and vision of our alumni and friends, and the ambition and drive of our faculty, Tulane’s scholarly impact is strong and growing,” Meyer said.


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