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LOS ANGELES � Duke Law School Professor Erwin Chemerinsky has accepted an offer to become the new dean of the University of California, Irvine’s law school six days after Chancellor Michael Drake abruptly rescinded a similar offer amid political sensitivities. “We had a hiccup last week, but during the time we were talking, our relationship was a good relationship going forward,” Drake said in a joint press conference on Monday. “That’s what allowed us to come back together toward the end of the week, to spend the time it took to have a clear understanding of each other to work together as partners and come out of this with a stronger bond than we had before.” Chemerinsky agreed. “I would never have accepted this position today if I didn’t believe in Michael Drake,” he said. On Sept. 11, UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake withdrew an offer he had made to Chemerinsky a month earlier because he turned out to be “too politically controversial,” according to Chemerinsky last week. On Monday, Chemerinsky acknowledged those statements but said, “When I had the opportunity to talk yesterday, I was able to really see that what may have been significant differences weren’t actually differences.” He said he and Drake resolved some disagreements relating to academic freedom and “institutional responsibility” and noted: “I would never have accepted a faculty member or dean position where I felt I was being muzzled about speaking about important issues of the justice system.” Still, he said, a dean must be sensitive to the impact that his or her actions could have on an institution. Drake continued to maintain that politics had nothing to do with his last minute decision. “It was a very difficult decision last week,” Drake said on Monday. “I felt that going forward was not something I was prepared to do. And stopping caused more noise than I anticipated.” He declined to specify what lead to his decision to withdraw the offer to Chemerinsky and, subsequently, what caused him to change his mind once again. But he said he was never pressured to withdraw the offer and that his earlier conversations with Chemerinsky were taken out of context or misunderstood. Hundreds of faculty members at UC Irvine expressed their disappointments and concerns about Drake’s decision at a meeting last week, said Elizabeth Loftus, UC Irvine professor of psychology and social behavior and criminology, law and society, who was a member of the dean search committee. At that time, “there was a lot of interest and expression to the chancellor to consider reinstating the offer,” she said. Additionally, nearly 60 faculty from the University of California at Los Angeles sent Drake an open letter on Saturday protesting his decision, adding that they were “deeply disturbed at the implication that outside political pressure led the Chancellor to reverse his own considered decision to choose an extraordinary and well qualified candidate following a deliberative process.” In the letter, they asked him to reverse his decision and send Chemerinsky’s appointment to the Regents. On Monday, law professors praised Chemerinsky’s appointment. “The outpouring of reaction to their prior decision is an indication of how valued and effective he’ll be as dean,” said Laurie Levenson, criminal law and ethics professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. Going forward, she anticipated the furor over Drake’s rescission would not hamper the recruiting of high profile law scholars to the Donald Bren School of Law, which is scheduled to open in 2009. “I don’t think there’s a problem as long as Erwin is at the helm,” Levenson said. “Erwin has proven he won’t stand by and let anything compromise the integrity of the law school. He stood up to the bullies and we won. You couldn’t buy this publicity.” But UC Irvine faculty members aren’t appeased. On Monday, a cabinet of the UC Irvine Academic Senate called an emergency faculty meeting for this Thursday to discuss Drake’s leadership of the campus and a commitment to academic freedom. “We are encouraged by the joint announcement of Chancellor Drake and Professor Erwin Chemerinsky that Professor Chemerinsky has been offered and has accepted the position of Dean of the UCI School of Law,” wrote UCI Academic Senate Chairman Tim Bradley in an e-mail distributed to faculty members on Monday. “However, it is important that the UCI faculty discuss the issues and concerns raised by recent events.” “There are definitely faculty who still want to keep the conversation going and learn more and figure out what happened,” Loftus said.

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