| Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly held herself to be an academic star. Harvard graduate, Michael Patrick Leahy, is doing his best to protect the academic integrity of his alma mater from the alleged academic fraud of Elizabeth Warren. He has another story on the alleged fraud.
(Second in a four-part series) When Elizabeth Warren, Teresa A. Sullivan, and Jay Westbrook, co-authors of the 1989 book As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America, were charged by Rutgers Law School Professor Philip Shuchman with scientific misconduct in 1990, they quickly asked for an investigation to clear their names. Sullivan, who resigned earlier this month as President of the University of Virginia, "immediately asked [her] employer, The University of Texas, to investigate the charge," as she told me in a letter I received by email from her on June 5, 2012.
By 1990, all three co-authors--Sullivan, Warren, and Westbrook--were well established fixtures in University of Texas academic and social circles. Sullivan was the Chairman of the Sociology Department at the University of Texas, and would soon become the Dean of Graduate Studies. Westbrook was a long-tenured member of the faculty at the University of Texas Law School. Warren, who taught at the University of Texas Law School from 1981 to 1987, had by this time moved on to the University of Pennsylvania Law School, a top ten school with great prestige.
Warren's former colleagues at the University of Texas took pride in her emergence as a rising legal star of the left, a reputation she carefully cultivated. According to some who have followed her career, she was considered a master practitioner of hard-nosed academic political tactics, and her critics in the genteel world of higher education were increasingly wary of her.
Leahy goes on to outline multiple mistakes, and factual errors in the report. He closes strongly:
Professor Westbrook's claim that "the many positive reviews of our book in leading legal and scientific publications speak for themselves" doesn't tell the entire story of the book's reception by academic peers. It os worth noting that most of these positive reviews were written by academics with little or no expertise in bankruptcy law. One positive review in Science Magazine was only a page and a half long. The author, Ramona Heck, specializes in home based employment and the family. Another favorable review, mentioned specifically in Teresa A. Sullivan's letter to me received by email on June 5, 2012, was written by Dr. David Caplovitz, who was described in his 1992 New York Times obituary as a "a sociologist and an authority on American spending habits and misleading sales practices."
All three nationally recognized experts on bankruptcy who reviewed the book--Shuchman of Rutgers Law School, Marjorie Girth of SUNY Buffalo Law School, and economist Michelle White of the University of Michigan--gave it negative reviews. In the final two articles in this series, we will explore the unanswered questions posed by those reviews, as well as the institutional failings of the National Science Foundation and Harvard University and the roles they played in this unfolding scandal.
This article is well worth a read. Elizabeth Warren has a lot of explaining to do.