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The following is the text of a letter to the editor I sent in on the topic of setting up your own program in Dispute Resolution.  The editor conformed it and then published it in the "Other's Stories" section of the Chronicle at

Subj: All the corrections in one spot, with an afterword
Date: 10/20/2000 7:25:57 AM Central Daylight Time
From: Ethesis

In a message dated 10/18/2000 11:12:47 AM Central Daylight Time, writes:
> Hi.
> Thanks for sending us your comments. I'll be happy to post them in first
> person's others' stories section, but I need you to clarify a few things
> first. See my questions below in all caps (I put them in all caps merely so
> you could easily spot them). Thanks for your interest and for your help.
> Best wishes,
> Gabriela Montell
> on 10/18/2000 07:53:22 AM
> To:
> Subject: I felt sorry for Anon who was trying to return to academia ...
> After all, he is facing several problems.
> First, there are strong age related discrimination patterns.
> Second, many community college level schools are rather hostile to
> "overqualified" people. I remember substituting in at one. They routinely
> gave quizes (that came with the text book) to check just how far behind they fell in the
> lesson plan and how much the  student's performance suffered as a result of
> having a substitute.
> Well, for the week I taught, when they gave the tests, the student's scores
> in every section went up. That meant that stepping in on short notice, as a
> sub, I was able to teach more/better than the regular prof was doing.
> I've never had things go so cold, so fast and hard. That was the end of my
> visits as a sub to that community college and the end of any chance I had of
> making on the faculty. I had better academic style credentials, that is,
> I had a doctorate and experience in the area I was teaching and most of them
> had only masters in related areas -- and, it
> turned out, I taught better too.
> Third, for the most part, hiring is an intensely social situation -- like
> marriage or dating. If you don't fit into the social model, you are at a
> disadvantage. This hurts minorities and others, not just the older prof,
> but it is the driving force in academia today.
> So, what should Anon do?
> Well, and I haven't seen case studies or solid analysis to show that this will work for people other than the Anonymous of The Chronicle of Higher Education: First Person submission, but I can give him some pointers from a number of cases that I have observed, both at a distance and in practice. I'd say I'm aware of at least twenty other professors teaching as the result of the suggestions below and I am teaching in a program that got its start this way.
> He can build his own program through the continuing education program at a
> local college. Continuing ed programs are always on the look-out for a class
> here or a class there to add. Anonymous can offer a class on preparing for
> law school. He can do one on criminal law paralegal. He can start an ADR
> (Alternative Dispute Resolution, or Dispute Resolution)
> program if the school he is at doesn't have one (and, luckily, he can self
> teach himself everything he needs to know off the web. has more
> than enough for him to teach from).
> I've seen programs like that grow from one class of eight kids to over two
> hundred enrolled students. Of course I'm referencing the one I teach in at
> Southern Methodist Unversity, which got its start as part of the continuing
> education program. It now offers two different masters degrees and a
> graduate certificate, but it had a very humble beginning and I think the same
> approach would work at almost any community college that does not have
> dispute resolution being taught in the community.
> I'm at a loss for other Anonymous types, but your poster has the right
> background and is at the right moment in an academic trend -- the growth of dispute resolution programs -- so that he
> can capitalize on the combination of a growing trend, a lack of established programs and the use of lawyers and cross-disciplinary scholars to teach in ADR programs -- to build a teaching career for himself.
> Oh, it took SMU only two and a half years to get from the first class to the
> 200 enrolled student mark. I'm not promising that Anonymous can do the same
> job that SMU's program director did, or have the same luck in attracting the
> level of adjunct faculty to support the program that SMU has had, but for the usual humble goal of three classes a
> semester and 45-50 students total, I think two years is not a bad timeline. A search through the vast majority of ADR offerings at universities reflects that probably 95% of them are from programs that followed the path I'm noting in their creation.
> I wish him well.
> Regards,
> Stephen R. Marsh

Post Script/Afterword

Following our e-mail exchange I didn't see the essay up on the web, and I wasn't sure if it was my approach to answering the editing questions or that it didn't fit the column. However, the real reason I wrote this was for forwarding to Anon so that he could use the information. I'd appreciate it if you would forward it to him regardless of whether or not you use the essay.

I also thought I should note that the entire area of ADR/Dispute Resolution Studies is facinating in the way that the programs are growing and that the field is spreading. I'd say right now it has about a 5% penetration in higher education (outside of law schools, about 25% in law schools), but Syracuse, Cornell and George Mason/ICAR all have internationally renown graduate programs, Columbia's is picking up momentum and the number of growing institutes and related facilities is impressive. There are, of course, a number of lesser known programs and a few that are really up and coming (I rather favor my own, where I teach at Southern Methodist University, but we've taken a very unusual approach). There are also three undergraduate programs (Brenau, George Mason and University of North Texas).

However, there are about forty well publicized quasi-continuing education programs that I have been following (I keep the Commerce Clearing House index up) and those are the model for what I suggested to Anon. Each of those is now much more than "just continuing education" but they all appear to be home grown, in the back door, in the way they started, and they all grew pretty quickly. From Royal Roads (which is waging a serious campaign for a national spot) in Canada down South to Argentina, it has been interesting to watch.

So, when I browsed by Anon's essay, I felt like I ought to write to him. He deserves more hope than the poor guy in this week's first person essay who wrote.

"Take it easy!" he shot back. "One thing at a time. Just try to get a couple conference interviews. Maybe next year you'll get invited to a campus. Who knows, in a few years you could receive an offer. Anything is possible."

I feel for people in that situation, nervous to be late to play a guitar for tips. But Anon doesn't have to be in a place where he has given up hope and dignity, like a friend who finished his ivy league education working on boat slips until he died from the labor and the weather.

For that matter, now that I think of this in terms of an essay that would be useful to your readers rather than just a note I was writing to Anon, while it would be harder, someone with a history or sociology background (after all, ICAR started as a faux-sociology program) could probably do the same thing with ADR that someone with a J.D. would do.

Now that I think of it, many people have done just fine without a J.D. in setting up programs. Heaven knows the credentials of some of the leading scholars in the field are pretty light (from a lawyer's standpoint, always remember the incredible arrogance of the legal community is even greater than the norm for academics) or unrelated (anthropology, etc. -- and I'm not dismissing anthro -- I took classes in the subject and appreciate that it is actually as relevant or more to ADR than law, it is just that the field is dominated by J.D.s very few of whom have ever seen anthropology as anything relevant to life, society or the human condition regardless of the fact that it studies all three with depth and dedication). There are even programs started by Educational Doctorates and the like.

Guess the approach has more relevance than I thought, both in terms of who can take the specific approach (start a dispute resolution program by offering classes through continuing education and building from there) and may have more relevance in general (it should be possible to build other types of programs the same way as long as the university you are working through doesn't have the type of program you are interested in teaching). I was just thinking from what I know works and how I've seen it work (and yes, I my undergraduate in applied economics was probably leaking out again) when I was writing what was really just a letter I hoped to have forwarded to Anon.



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