Kagan “Not a Natural Academic”

The Chicago Tribune reports on the University of Chicago’s refusal to rehire Elena Kagan as a tenured member of its law faculty after her stint in the Clinton White House.

“She’s just not a natural academic, period,” said Richard A. Epstein, a prominent libertarian and longtime professor at the University of Chicago. “She is a natural lawyer, and a facilitator, and a dean.”

“She turned out to be truly great at what she did,” said David Strauss, a U. of C. law professor and one of Kagan’s closest friends on the faculty. If things had gone as she’d planned at the time, he said, “maybe she wouldn’t be where she is now.” . . .

When Kagan decided it was time to return to the U. of C., several faculty members weren’t convinced that she was devoted to academia and planned to spend her career there, recalled Geoffrey Stone, who was provost of the university at the time and who supported her reappointment.

There was no vote to reject her, but there was no offer, either. . . .

In retrospect, Stone believes it was “admirable” what the Chicago faculty did, keeping its focus on scholarship even though it was clear Kagan would probably end up in the corridors of power one day.

“The amazing part is her resilience,” said Stone. “I don’t think this story is about failure. I think it’s about finding one’s niche.”