Dean Michelle Simon, who has lead Pace University School of Law since 2007 (and permanently since 2008) is stepping down from the school's deanship. Simon became an assistant professor at Pace in 1990 and has been with the school since.
Upon accepting the appointment as Dean, I immediately ceased posting to my personal Facebook account and opened a new account using my decanal title. I did the same thing with my Twitter account, which I had really only started as a vehicle for keeping up with my teenage children. I kept the Linkedin account as it was since these connections and the use of the platform is more business focused. I'm learning Instagram, Pinterest and Google + now. Why? Because my students and alumni use these tools more often than email as a form of modern communication. We can debate the value of face-to-face communication and traditional memos and letters, but the bottom line is that if we want to capture attention and convey information, then understanding how each of these tools can be most effectively used is an important part of the job. I believe this wholeheartedly and prioritized resources to hire a social media staff member who works with both our IT and Communications departments, as well as with individual faculty.
On the positive side of social media, I have used Twitter to find students in the building needed for a meeting or event. Funny, it has sometimes been easier to get a response from a tweet than from an email. At times, especially during Superstorm Sandy when our region was in chaos, Facebook proved to be the best method to communicate with masses of students. Alumni tend to read announcements of events on their Facebook news feed more often than opening up email blasts from the Law School that may be perceived to be "junk mail." In fact, the positive feedback about "the Facebook Dean" has been great. Countless alumni and current students stop me regularly to comment that appreciate knowing what is going on at the Law Center "real time." I also use Facebook as a forum to share an interesting article about trends in legal education. This sometimes generates discussion through comments – engaging students, alumni and faculty in on on-line conversation. Using Linkedin has enabled alumni to connect for referrals and to discuss upcoming networking opportunities, and it can be fertile ground for students to identify potential mentors. In addition to my use of these tools (and on these I do all of my own posting), the Law Center and many departments/offices maintain their own Facebook pages as a means of communicating with students and alumni (e.g., Career Services, Student Services, Alumni Affairs and the Library). The Alumni Office also set up a group on Linkedin where announcements can be posted and information can be shared with those in the alumni community who choose to join.
There are some drawbacks however. For example, this week at our adjunct faculty meeting, one faculty member commented on how she observed a student tweeting in class. She was tech savvy enough to "call him out" using his own game by sending him a tweet letting him know she was on to him and could read what he was doing. It stopped. There have been times students have been “called out” by classmates because of comments made about peers and faculty on Facebook…sometimes while they were in class. At first year orientation we include a session on social media ethics and professionalism. It is possible that on law school sponsored social media sites, a participant may feel compelled to make a negative comment about the institution. For private schools, they may have a choice of whether to allow the comment to be posted and/or whether to delete. For public schools, however, it is possible that the sites could be considered a public forum, thereby implicating First Amendment issues. Further, public schools may have to develop and administer record retention policies for postings on these sites to ensure compliance with state access to records laws. It is a good idea to develop a social media policy.
In my opinion, the benefits outweigh the cautionary tales, and I urge my colleagues who are not engaged in this form of communication to experiment with one or more of the tools discussed. I also invite you to send a friend request to me at Dean Patricia Salkin, to follow me on Twitter @DeanSalkin, or invite me (Patricia Salkin) to connect on Linkedin.
Wash U. can't get no respect. Notwithstanding its high status among academic insiders - for great undergrad and law programs, and a phenomenal med school - the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that "Missouri law school dean to lead Syracuse Univ." Other news outlets are carrying a similar headline. If Dean Treanor had nabbed the job, would the headline have been "Washington D.C. law dean to lead Syracuse Univ."? Would Dean Levi be the "North Carolina law dean"?
Maybe I'm just sensitive because I grew up in Illinois. You know - where Dan Rodriguez is dean.
Dean Kent Syverud of the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law is leaving to become Chancellor of Syracuse University. Before joining Wash U., Syverud was dean of Vanderbilt Law School from 1997-2005 and a member of the law faculty at the University of Michigan (where he obtained his J.D.) He begins his new position in January.
After noticing the cyclical start of announcements of deans stepping down and new search committees being formed, short-term memories of what actually got me to answer the question of “Why be a law dean now?” started coming back. I have been asked by friends and former colleagues whether I regret having abandoned a relatively safe and secure faculty job with administrative responsibilities in a community filled with the comfort of friends and contacts for a deanship “at this time.” My answer is that this is the best time to be a law school dean and I would encourage all creative and hard-working faculty and practitioners to consider taking part in this journey.
My own motivation for deciding to go to law school was steeped in law and public policy. I figured if I had to live by the laws, which sometimes work well and sometimes result in injustices and unintended consequences, then I wanted to be a part of making those laws better. That left the choice of running for public office or serving in a creative advisory and advocacy role to lawmakers and policymakers. After short contemplation given the public perception of and jokes about lawyers and politicians, I decided the more meaningful avenue of helping to promote meaningful reform was by advising those in positions to actually make the decision. After law school, having secured what I thought was my dream job in government, I quickly realized the importance of not just being a government lawyer, but being a government lawyer in a position with an avenue to actually accomplish something meaningful to correct an injustice, to protect the environment and to simply leave the community better off than it was before I got here. The best career decision I made was to move from the public sector into academia.
The bulk of my academic career has been spent researching, discussing, debating and advocating ideas for all kinds of legislative and regulatory change in dozens of areas of law. I often wonder why some find engaging in scholarship to be a particular challenge – for me it represents a constant vehicle for communicating ideas and preserving these ideas and justifications in support thereof for present and future generations of change agents. There is an indescribable rush of adrenaline when a government or a court embraces the reform concept that you know germinated in your work. The adrenaline feeds the passion to take on the next issue with equal intensity. Not all ideas can be addressed at once and not every government chooses to experiment with the same option for reform. Before assuming the deanship at Touro Law Center I started to move some of my scholarly interests to law teaching, discussing innovative strategies to incorporate Carnegie’s best practices approach in doctrinal classes and sharing observations gleaned from moving one of my courses to an all on-line format.
I often explain that being a law dean, especially now, is little different from the skill-set honed over two decades running a research center focused on legal aspects of public policy reform. Over the last several years the economic issues and challenges posed to law practice in all sectors, the shifting demands for legal services, the impact of technology, changing demographics and other factors have forced the business models behind the practice to undergo continuing change. The pressures facing the profession have joined what had been a quieter discussion ruminating for a long time about legal education reform. Now that discussion is a front-and-center debate within the academy, the profession, the media and most recently with President Obama offering an opinion, perhaps the government.
This is the best time to be a law dean. There will always be pressures and demands from multiple constituencies and while the economic challenges may be greater than in the past, the chance to thoughtfully work together with smart and creative groups of professionals to develop innovative initiatives that will lay a foundation today for lawyering in the future is too great an opportunity to pass up. The legal education experience we provide today is the investment for the future of our profession - a profession that protects rule of law, ensures that all people have access to civil and criminal legal services, and ensures a sustainable tomorrow across the globe. Similar to legal aspects of public policy reform, there is not one “right way” to accomplish meaningful reform. Dozens of different approaches have already been adopted and are being implemented in law schools across the country and more will be introduced. This is the time for law schools to be laboratories of innovation and reform, to learn from each other and to continue to develop and refine new approaches to foundational doctrinal and skills education needed to produce the lawyers of tomorrow. The tag line used often by those in government “There is no higher calling,” seems to be equally applicable now to law school deans who have access to a special platform to foster sustainability.
Dean David Logan, who has been the dean of Roger Williams School of Law since 2003, will step down and return to the faculty at the end of this school year. He came to RWU from Wake Forest where he had been on the law faculty for twenty years.
Lost in light vacation blogging was this news item: Dean Christopher Edley of the University of California - Berkeley School of Law will step down at year's end. He is taking medical leave immediately. He has been dean for nine years and his term as dean was set to end next year. Professor Gillian Lester will serve as acting dean as the school searches for its next leader.
It's my pleasure to introduce Mitchel Winick, the dean and president of Monterey College of Law, to the faculty lounge. He's going to be sitting with us for a spell. Mitch has served as dean of Monterey since 2005. Prior to moving to Monterey, Mitch served as the Assistant Dean for Texas Tech University School of Law and as the Executive Director and Education Director for the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism. He also served as an adjunct law professor at University of Houston, University of New Mexico, Southern Methodist University, and Texas Wesleyan University. He was educated at the University of the Pacific and the University of Houston School of Law. In addition to his administrative duties, he teaches in the areas of professional ethics and international law and his scholarship on ethics has appeared in the Texas Tech Law Review and the Texas Wesleyan Law Review.
Monterey College of Law is an independent, non-profit evening law school accredited by the State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners. Thus, Dean Winick has a different perspective from a lot of the voices we usually hear in the lounge. I'm looking forward to his thoughts about their curriculum, faculty, the goals for the education of their students, and what practices of non-traditional law schools might be used to change more traditional schools. I'm looking forward to the conversation. Welcome, Dean Winick.
Professor Bill Brewbaker, who was originally named a short term "acting dean" - pending appointment of an interim dean - has now become that interim dean. I imagine that Bill fought long and hard to avoid the appointment, given that his interests tend more towards theological perspectives on law rather than herding cats, but he is an excellent choice.
Following up on Dan Filler's post from last week, Bill Brewbaker has just been named interim dean (he was previously acting dean) at the University of Alabama. Bill's a great friend and an all-around terrific person, who cares very deeply about the law school and the University. Bill is a native of Montgomery and a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia's law school and holds an LLM from Duke. Bill, an expert in health law, property, and law and religion, practiced in Birmingham before joining the Alabama faculty.
There has been some blog discussion about Dean Ken Randall's departure from the University of Alabama after 20 years at the helm. He shared some details about his plans for the future, his view of legal education, and his ongoing relationship with Alabama. From an email:
We all are still working on the margins of traditional education with distance ed; it is high time to create economies of scale industry-wide; to bring law to non-lawyers; to create hybrid models of brick-and-mortar and technology-based programs; to train lawyers to deliver legal services in the new technology-based ways clients demand; and to train law students for jobs that don't require a bar license. We need inclusive education, that breaks down geographical and other boundaries.
The InfiLaw System offered a special opportunity, supporting me to lead a new venture, InfiLaw Ventures, both to create new content, and to deliver existing content in ways that expand markets and serve student learners who otherwise might be left out of education....We will joint venture with schools nationally and internationally.
I've been involved in traditional legal education. But the ABA rules on distance education need updating. We need the accreditors and educators and innovators coming together to meet the new realities of legal education.
I deaned at Alabama for 20 years; in fact I smile when asked about the timing of my retirement; the question should be how does one person stay so long.....And even this Fall, the Alabama President has asked me to help with Alabama's ABA inspection
Professor Eric Gouvin, of the Western New England University School of Law, has been named the school's new dean, effective immediately. Gouvin, who holds a JD from Boston University School of Law, previously served as an associate dean and director of the school's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Dean David Schizer sent an email to Columbia Law School alumni this morning mentioning that he is approaching the end of his ten year term. (I didn't realize that there is a ten year limit on deans at Columbia, nor did I realize he'd been there so long. For some reason the past nine years have gone by very, very quickly.)
This is an exciting time for Columbia, difficult as things are in legal education and law practice more generally. And my sense -- gathered from afar -- is that Schizer has been incredibly good for the law school. I've heard about his dedication to helping students find jobs, to helping/encouraging faculty to do great work in the classroom and in their research and service, and to expanding Columbia's engagement with the legal community. Cribbing now a little from Dean Schizer's letter:
Our goal has been to produce scholarship that engages with the most important issues of our time, and to make our curriculum more connected to the profession, more interdisciplinary, and more international. To do so, we have added outstanding scholars and teachers to our faculty. Our full-time faculty is now twenty percent larger than it was nine years ago. Our student body this year will be about three percent larger than nine years ago, primarily reflecting an increase in our LL.M. enrollment to enhance the international influence of our school. As a result, our student-faculty ratio is the lowest it has ever been. This allows us to provide each student with more individual attention, and to pursue a broad range of innovations in our research and teaching. We have also added a new floor to Jerome Greene Hall, renovated classrooms and other spaces, maintained our exceptional job placement record in a challenging job market, and offered more generous support to students who work in government and public interest organizations over the summer and after graduation.
I'm sure the competition for this deanship will be fierce. It'll be most interesting to see what happens.
I want to talk a little bit about the news that my friend and mentor Ken Randall is retiring from the University of Alabama at the end of the month. I have a lot of things I want to say about Ken and all the great things he's done for the University of Alabama over his nearly two decades long tenure as dean. Time is short this evening, so I will confine my thoughts to a couple of vignettes. When Ken took over as dean Alabama was ranked in what US News then called the "second tier" -- schools 51 to 99 or thereabouts. Back then U.S. News didn't rank provide a specific rank to schools beyond the top 50, so it's not possible to tell exactly where the law school ranked beyond somewhere outside of the top fifty and better than 100. Through dint of extraordinary work on his part of fund raising and recruiting of students -- and of course hard work by the earnest and talented faculty and staff -- Alabama rose into the top 50 around 1999. That's about where it was when I arrived in 2001. And the climb's continued, to the astonishing and impressive level it is at now. Perhaps most impressive is that he's been able to move the notoriously static peer assessment score up, from about 2.6 to whatever it is now, I guess 3.0 or thereabouts.
Ken presided over years of excellent hiring and improvement in student quality; and the University has seen a correlation in growth as well. When I arrived the University's enrollment was about 19,000; and I guess it's now over 30,000. How this happened was a combination of talent and energy. Among Ken's many talents is his work ethic -- there were lots of weekends and evenings that I'd be leaving the parking lot for home and his car was still there. He personally called all admitted students and ran a terrific recruitment team. (I know this because the last few years I've been recruiting against Alabama.) But lots of people have terrific work ethic -- Ken's able to identify talent -- in students and faculty -- and recruit both to Tuscaloosa. He has a set of skills across a broad range, from planning to execution.
Back in 2006 another terrific law school tried to recruit him as dean -- and the University was able fend off that raid, with among other things promises for increased support for faculty hiring. Ken negotiated on behalf of the entire law school and helped us all improve. I remember commenting to my colleague Susan Lyons at that point how lucky we were that Ken was staying. That caused us to talk about another school that had offered him the deanship back around the time Alabama made him dean. I commented sort of matter-of-factly that if he'd gone there that school would be in the top fifty. And she thought for a moment and then said with a smile and a bit of a laugh, "I think that's right."
I guess I'm not shocked that Ken's leaving for other mountains to climb. And I hope I have the chance to spend time with him down the road, to learn more lessons about teaching and administration, and life in general from him. The quotation from Emerson that comes to mind now is from "Self-Reliance": "an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man." And without sounding too melodramatic, that is certainly the case of the University of Alabama School of Law and Ken Randall.
Ken has left the school in terrific shape and I'm 100% certain that there will be enormous competition for the permanent deanship. There are a huge number of positives in place and I'd imagine this will be the most sought-after deanship in the country next year.
Texas A&M is working furiously to finalize its acquisition of Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. Among other things, it is seeking a speedy accreditation approval fom the ABA. Meanwhile, Texas Wesleyan has named its associate dean, Aric Short, to the position of interim dean of the law school. Short holds a JD from the University of Texas.
From Cambridge (via my friend David Garrow) comes news that University of Virginia Law Professor James Ryan has just been appointed dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Ryan's scholarship includes the widely acclaimed book Five Miles Away, A World Apart, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press. Cribbing now from the press release:
James E. Ryan, one of the nation’s leading scholars of education law and policy, will become the next dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), President Drew Faust announced today.
Ryan, an award-winning teacher who has served on the University of Virginia faculty since 1998, succeeds Kathleen McCartney, who will leave Harvard to become president of Smith College on July 1.
Ryan will officially assume his new role on Sept. 1, near the start of the 2013-14 academic year. Richard Murnane, the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at HGSE, will serve as acting dean from July 1 until Ryan begins his tenure.
“Jim Ryan is an outstanding scholar, teacher, and academic leader with a deep passion for improving education and for enhancing the interplay of scholarship, practice, and policy,” Faust said. “Throughout the search, I have been impressed by his seamless integration of the intellectual and the practical, his warm and open personal style, and his evident talent for drawing together people from different backgrounds, disciplines, and points of view.