It was with mixed emotions that I informed University of Utah President Ruth Watkins and the faculty earlier this year that the 2018-2019 academic year will be my final year as Dean of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, after a six-year term.
I have enjoyed serving as Dean tremendously, including most notably the opportunity it gave me to meet and become better acquainted with so many of you in the community. I greatly appreciate all of your help, support and encouragement.
I’m proud of what we have accomplished at the College of Law in recent years, particularly in an era where law schools across the nation experienced a dramatic decline in applications, a trend that is now beginning to reverse. We completed and moved into our new building. We maintained our traditional standards of quality, leading to progress in both first-time bar passage and employment. We emphasized improving diversity as a core value and just admitted the most diverse class in our history, with 25 percent of the incoming Class of 2021 identifying as students of color.
This fall, we launched our first new degree program in nearly a quarter century, a Master of Legal Studies degree for working, non-law professionals. We have expanded our community Pro Bono clinics, as well as the scope and participation rate in our clinical program. We hired some tremendous new faculty members, who are national leaders in fields such as business law, constitutional law, criminal law, intellectual property law, and tax law, while strengthening our skills program as well.
My reasons for stepping down at the end of June 2019 are straightforward. I’ve enjoyed the professional challenges of the past 13 years of my academic career, much of which has been spent on administrative tasks such as serving as associate dean, chairing the building committee and overseeing the completion of our wonderful new facility, and most recently as dean. While these projects have been rewarding, I’ve also missed the opportunity to do many of the things I love about working in academia—teaching and mentoring our students, conducting serious scholarship in my field of law, and engaging in community service activities. I want to devote the remaining years of my academic career to those pursuits.
There is, of course, a lot more a new Dean can accomplish, coming in with fresh ideas. That is healthy for any law school, and our law school still has a lot of untapped potential. We have a talented Dean Search Committee, comprised of College of Law faculty, students, administrators, and outside representatives. I am confident they will identify excellent candidates, and that President Watkins will choose a superb new Dean from among them.
Sincerely, and with my appreciation,