Law School dean search nears end

The field has been narrowed to five candidates. Each will come to campus within a month.

by Mike Rose

From 202 candidates, the University Law School narrowed its list to five finalists who could become the school’s next dean. Now, the finalists will get to check out their potential new jobs as the search nears an end.

Starting Monday, each candidate will make a two-day visit to campus in order to be evaluated by faculty, staff and students, with the search committee overseeing their visits. After the candidates have made their visits, the committee will present its choice to Provost Tom Sullivan.

The five candidates come from all over the globe. Two currently call New York home. Nora Demleitner is the interim law dean at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., while David Wippman is Vice Provost for International Relations and professor of law at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Edward Larson hails from sunny Malibu, Calif. The Hugh & Hazel Darling professor of law currently works at Pepperdine University.

The Pacific Northwest will be represented by Greg Hicks, the interim law dean at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The longest flight to campus will be made by Leon Trakman, the Immediate Past Dean and professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Demleitner will be the first candidate to visit, stopping by campus Monday and Tuesday. Trakman will be the last, making the long trip Dec. 4 and 5.

Alison Davis-Blake, dean of the Carlson School of Management and co-chairwoman of the search committee, said a decision will be made by late December at the earliest. She said the selected dean is scheduled to assume the role by July 2008, though this could change.

During their two-day visits, the candidates will have a chance to meet with students, staff and other faculty members on campus, Davis-Blake said.

Additionally, members of the University community are encouraged to fill out online evaluation forms for each candidate, Davis-Blake said.

“The committee is stepping back at this point and encouraging others to get to know the candidates,” she said.

The evaluation form provides seven criteria for people to evaluate a candidate – vision, commitment to academic excellence, fundraising, commitment to diversity, collegiality, administrative ability and energy.

Kevin Reitz, a law school professor and co-chairman of the committee, said bringing the candidates to campus will allow them to display their people skills to the University community.

“A dean has to make connections with a lot of different people,” he said.

The search committee has also consulted with interim deans Guy Charles and Fred Morrison to get a sense of the school’s current state. Neither Charles nor Morrison expressed interest in being considered as the full dean, though both were offered the opportunity to become candidates.

Morrison identified academic stature, management ability and effective people skills as the key criteria for the job.

He said he will wish good luck to whoever the committee chooses, but won’t offer words of advice.

“I think that an incoming dean has to have their own style,” he said.

Davis-Blake said the committee also recognizes that candidates have different styles and there is no simple formula for making the choice.

“There’s a lot of ways to be an effective dean,” she said. “It’s not really a matter of one thing that someone must do – it’s that whole profile.”