Over at MoneyLaw, there's an interesting little post about about "the real meaning of Sextonism." At MoneyLaw, Sextonism has been defined as "the ardoit (if not altogther credible) promotion of an educational institution among its constiutents and rivals alike." For a less chartible description, check out this post on Brien Leiter's blog.
I must admit that I find Prof. Leiter's critique of "Sextonism" a bit amusing. What he derides as "utterly laughable hyperbole", I would term martketing. As a student, I would be offended and upset if my school's adminstration was not out there promoting the quality of our faculty to anyone who will listen or care. I (along with every other student not fortunate enough to hit scholarship paydirt) pay a lot of money to go to law school. When it's all said and done, a school's reputation is going to play a big part in whether or not its students are able to get jobs after graduation, and the perceived quality of a school's faculty plays a big part in its reputation. If anything, I feel that any school not out there promoting itself is doing its students a huge disservice.
One of the fundamental tenents of marketing is that perception = reality. If a school is perceived as having an outstanding faculty, it-in a very real sense-has an outstanding faculty. It seems that by arguing against self-promotion, what Prof. Leiter is really calling for is continuation of the status quo with certain (unnamed, primarily eastern) schools entrenched firmly at the top. After all, if a school isn't out there promoting itself, who else will?