ASSoL at GMU — Really?

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As suspicious as the dateline is, this is apparently for real — Susan Svrluga, "George Mason law school to be renamed the Antonin Scalia School of Law", Washington Post 4/1/2016:

The George Mason School of Law will be renamed in honor of the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this year.

The university announced Thursday that it has received $30 million in combined gifts to the George Mason Foundation to support the law school, the largest gift in the university’s history. The donations make possible three new scholarship programs. Twenty million dollars came from an anonymous donor, and $10 million came from the Charles Koch Foundation, which has given millions of dollars to colleges in the United States. The family is well known for its support of conservative political groups, sometimes stirring controversy.

The Board of Visitors approved the renaming of the school to the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University. “This is a milestone moment for the university,” Ángel Cabrera, the university’s president, said in a statement. “These gifts will create opportunities to attract and retain the best and brightest students, deliver on our mission of inclusive excellence, and continue our goal to make Mason one of the preeminent law schools in the country.”


  1. Stephen Hart said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 2:26 pm

    As of April 2, this appears to be legit:

  2. Theophylact said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 2:37 pm

    Even the semiofficial "ASSLaw" isn't very flattering.

  3. D.O. said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 3:19 pm

    Prof. Liberman, is it just the acronym or something else raised your incredulity?

    [(myl) The first story that I saw about it was on a web log, and was dated April 1, and so I just assumed it was an April Fool's joke, given the date and the acronym. But clearly it's not.

    On any other date, I wouldn't have noticed anything unexpected.]

  4. David L said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 3:37 pm

    Channel 7 in DC had a piece on this yesterday evening. The reporter talked to various people who were not keen on the association with Scalia (although GMU is already known as a generally right wing school) and also coyly said that there were objections because of the acronym, a word she couldn't say because it would not be appropriate for their audience.

  5. Dan Lufkin said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 4:21 pm

    With the Republicans on the job who needs Sam Houston?

  6. David Morris said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 5:51 pm

    Why include 'o' in the acronym? Why couldn't it be ASSL (pronounce either as four letters or to rhyme with 'hassle'?)

  7. David Marjanović said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 7:02 pm

    Prof. Liberman, is it just the acronym or something else raised your incredulity?

    As he said, the dateline – April 1st.

  8. Anthony said,

    April 2, 2016 @ 11:17 pm

    Some years ago the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL) changed its name to League of American Orchestras..

  9. Michael said,

    April 3, 2016 @ 2:17 am

    Their acronym is absolutely fubar

  10. MedievalGuy said,

    April 3, 2016 @ 7:36 am

    I've already seen it referred to as ASS-Law…

  11. J.W. Brewer said,

    April 3, 2016 @ 9:34 pm

    ASLS would have been totally unproblematic. While "X School of Law" (occasionally "X College of Law") is more common these days in the U.S. when it comes to formal titles, "X Law School" remains a respectable minority variant. A pretty comprehensive list of full formal names of accredited U.S. law schools, showing a variety of permutations, is here: Of course, since the place was probably already "George Mason University School of Law," it would have been difficult to make the SoL->LS switch in connection with the renaming w/o giving an explanation, and I guess "avoiding unfortunate acronyms" might have been an embarrassing rationale to have to say out loud?

  12. Rolig said,

    April 4, 2016 @ 8:32 am

    This reminds me of the Roman Catholic women's college in Baltimore, The College of Notre Dame of Maryland, which is known affectionately by its students as CONDOM.

  13. Anan said,

    April 4, 2016 @ 8:51 am

    In light of his dissent in Lawrence v Texas (the case that struck down sodomy laws) railing against the "homosexual agenda", I think it quite apt that Scalia is being memorialized as an ASSoL.

  14. D.O. said,

    April 4, 2016 @ 5:03 pm

    It dawned on me only now that "a law is an ass" saying will have a renewed force when applied to law school formerly known as GMU school of law.

  15. David Scott Marley said,

    April 4, 2016 @ 5:19 pm

    The First Unitarian Church of Berkeley moved out of Berkeley and into Kensington in 1961.

    They decided not to change the name.

  16. Jim said,

    April 4, 2016 @ 6:48 pm

    I don't know that Staples' attempt to purchase the merged Office Depot/Office Max, but if they do, that becomes S-OD-OM

  17. James Wimberley said,

    April 5, 2016 @ 5:23 am

    When the former polytechnics were upgraded to universities in the UK, Newcastle Polytechnic escaped by a whisker renaming itself the City University of Newcastle-on-Tyne.

  18. Keith said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 1:25 am

    I got the impression that a good many Americans these days use their middle initials to reduce collisions in the namespace; simply calling it the Antonin G. Scalia School of Law would have made less of an ASS of the Law: AGSSoL

  19. C said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 8:21 am

    @James Wimberley

    But in the same reorganization, the former Bristol Polytechnic became The University of West Of England.
    I presume they never capitalize the "Of".

  20. J. W. Brewer said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

    @Keith: the trouble with that is that the late Justice Scalia was never AGS, at least not in his judicial capacity. Part of "insider" Supreme Court culture is that the various justices are quite often referred to by their initials, but there is no uniformity as to whether it's two initials or three — each justice has his or her own personal preference, and everyone else is supposed to know the relevant preference and uniformly adhere to it. So Scalia was always AS rather than AGS, but Kennedy was and is always AMK rather than AK. Varying from these justice-specific conventions would be a sociolinguistic signal that you were an outsider — that knowing which justice prefers which is the sort of random/contingent fact that you have to be an insider to get right just emphasizes its value from a cultural-capital perspective. Here's a randomly-googled up example showing that the justices as of October Term 2007 were split 6-3 between three-initial-users and two-initial users. (NB that "PC" does not denote a mysterious 10th justice, but rather "Per Curiam.")

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