Annette Clark, Associeate Professor of Law and former interim, vice, and associate dean of Seattle University School of Law, has been named the new dean at Saint Louis University School of Law. She will take over on July 1. She holds a JD from the University of Puget Sound Law and an MD from the University of Washington and seems to be a great fit for SLU, given its serious focus on health law.
Clark is yet another example of a new dean with a JD from a non-elite school. At some point, it becomes impossible to ignore the notion that people who get hired into the academy with non-elite JD's excel (at disproportionate rates) in the skills most essential for becoming a dean. And the skills at issue vary. In some cases, it may be that these individuals hold degrees from local schools and have better ties to local donors. Other times, it may be that these professors have focused less on scholarship and more on the administrative skills important to deaning. And in yet other cases, it may be that the sort of person who can sell herself in a faculty search, notwithstanding a non-elite degree - either through her exceptional scholarly talents or interpersonal skills - is also the sort of person who rises to the top in a dean search. Yes, as some critics have argued, there may be a generational component. It's possible that this phenomenon will become less and less common as the academy hires fewer and fewer non-elite grads. But I think there's something more going on here.
Whatever the case, it has happened again at SLU. Congratulations to all concerned.