It is my pleasure to report that Federal Magistrate Judge Valeria Couch will be the next dean at Oklahoma City University. Judge Couch has been on the bench since 1999; before that she was a partner in the Oklahoma City firm of Hartzog, Conger, and Cason. (And if my memory serves correctly, Bill Conger is OCU's general counsel.) Dean Couch went to college at UCLA, and holds a masters in English and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. She has taught at OCU as an adjunct since 2001. This is very exciting news for my friends at OCU.
Cribbing now from the Oklahoman story I linked to above:
Couch said her love for OCU and appreciation for the university's many contributions to the community are among the many factors that prompted her to accept the job.
“The other thing that influenced me was just their own aspirations to grow and develop as a law school, and they are really poised to move forward in an upward trajectory,” she said. “I knew that I would love to be a part of that effort.”
Couch said she has a number of ideas about ways to improve the law school experience that she would like to discuss with faculty and students.
“I think the development of more clinical experience there is going to be a big part of the task ahead,” she said.
“There are also opportunities to create centers of excellence like in natural resources and energy law. I think that might be a direction the faculty will want to go. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of collaboration to make decisions like that, but there are great opportunities.”
And as long as I'm posting about OCU, I thought I'd recall some of my post from last April when OCU first announced its search. I have a warm spot in my heart for the students and faculty at OCU -- they have for decades now provided a very solid education for both full-time and part-time students and their alumni have consistently gone on to have rich and meaningful careers. OCU places a very heavy emphasis on education, so the faculty have a sense of mission that I found inspiring. The next dean will find some great fundamentals in place in terms of a loyal and enthusiastic alumni base, as well as a strong faculty, with strong connections to the Oklahoma and north Texas legal communities. Moreover, OCU's president is Robert Henry, who came back to the school from the Tenth Circuit. (Judge Henry was the dean at OCU law before going on the Tenth Circuit.) There is a distinguished lineage to the deanship at OCU -- after Judge Henry went to the Tenth Circuit, our next permanent dean was Rennard Strickland, who went from OCU to the deanship at Oregon.
It's been a few years since I was in Oklahoma City, but I also want to add something about the city. Oklahoma City's been on an strong upward trajectory in recent years; the Thunder (the basketball team they imported from Seattle) is a sign of the money and optimism in Oklahoma City these days. Another sign of the growth of the city is Bricktown, the renovated warehouse district. There's of course great barbeque (and just down the road in Norman, football). And for those who are interested in race and law in the twentieth century, there's a lot to study in Oklahoma. ... Oklahoma offers a lot in terms of quality of life, as well as research opportunities. I remember one of the first evenings that I was there -- way back in August 1994 -- that I was outside at dusk and I looked across the sky and saw every imaginable color. Oklahoma is a place of extraordinary beauty and mystery, as well as a mix of cultures and politics.
Further information about OCU's law school is at their web page. I am certain that spirits are very high right now in Oklahoma City.