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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Law school dean musical chairs winding down

The great Minnesota law dean scramble is starting to wind down, with two of the three law schools in need of a new head at or nearing the accomplishment of their objectives. It's a big change from just two months ago when three of the state's four law schools were still widely casting their nets -- or so it seemed anyway.

William Mitchell College didn't actually cast its net very far, opting to stay in-house with its choice. On Nov 9, the school announced that one of its professors, Eric Janus, would serve as the new dean. Janus, who is well respected in the state's legal community, had served in the role on an interim basis since last September, when William Mitchell's former dean, Allen Easley, resigned and went on sabbatical.

Meanwhile, it appears that the University of Minnesota Law School will be hiring an outside candidate as its new dean. None of the five recently announced finalists for the post is local. (See the Bar Buzz column in this week's Minnesota Lawyer for the names and backgrounds of the candidates. Password required.) The U of M has been in search of a law dean since May 2006, when former dean Alex Johnson stepped down from the post and became a full-time professor at the school. Two co-deans have been filling the spot on an interim basis until a permanent dean could be found.

Hamline University School of Law, the third local law school in search of a dean, appears to still be at the early stages of the selection process. Hamline's current law dean, Jon Garon, announced a couple of months ago that he would step down as dean at the end of the academic year. Garon, a popular dean who has served in the post five years, said he is ready for change. Because Garon will remain at the captain's wheel until the end of the academic year, there is no reason for the school to rush.

The University of St. Thomas School of Law, on the other hand, is sitting pretty, with Dean Thomas Mengler still appearing to enjoy the post he has held for five years at the still-young law school. In the six years since the UST Law started, it has quickly and successfully weaved its way into the local legal community.


Hamline 2L said...

Re: Garon, some would say that "popular" is a bit of a stretch. I don't want to be negative for negativity's sake, but I do think that students have an inside line on a dean's reputation.

Mark Cohen, editor said...

I was using the word "popular" as an indication of being well-known in the outside legal community. But you make a good point, 2L. The students (and faculty) are in the best position to know a dean's internal rep., whatever that is.

In any event, I have never particularly liked the word popular. In some senses, Julius Caesar was a "popular" guy (not that I am comparing Garon to Caesar, mind you). It is one (of the many) reasons that I do not refer to myself as a popular editor.