Arizona State University announced, yesterday, that it has appointed interim Dean Douglas Sylvester as the school's new permanent dean. Sylvester, who joined the law school in 2002, has a very contemporary CV: before teaching, he had a Bigelow Fellowship at the University of Chicago and was a lecturer-in-law at both Chicago and Northwestern, before moving to ASU.
At the same time, he represents the sort of dean I've blogged about repeatedly: the graduate of a non-elite law school. Doug received his JD from the University of Buffalo School of Law. Except for a few ultra-elite schools that count on reifying elite status via the decanal hire, the educational pedigree of a dean candidate appears less important than his or her ability to actually do the job well. And for better or worse, a person with a non-elite JD has to be particularly effective to make it in the academy. By all accounts, Doug fits this bill precisely.