Law school dean search remains a secret

by Mary Ellen McIntire | Assistant News Editor

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Gregory Maggs, the school’s interim dean, announced last week to members of the Pre-Law Student Association that the school’s next dean would be announced next month.

Members of GW Law School’s dean search committee are keeping candidates under wraps as the faculty begins to pick their top choices this week.

About a dozen professors declined to comment on the 10 candidates who have visited campus this month, with many saying they are “sworn to secrecy.”

The school’s faculty met Wednesday to begin discussions about the candidates, who all visited campus in the last two months. Faculty will then cast their votes on which candidates to send to University President Steven Knapp and Provost Steven Lerman for the final decision.

The law school holds a full faculty vote to narrow down its top candidates, unlike most schools at GW that allow a search committee to decide.

Roger Schechter, a law professor who chairs the 12-person search committee that has thus far met with candidates, declined last week to provide details of the search.

Faculty had planned to meet for the talks on Wednesday, but many said it could take more time to come to an agreement, a law professor who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.

Gregory Maggs, the law school’s interim dean, announced last week while speaking to members of the Pre-Law Student Association that the school’s next dean would be announced next month.

Maggs, who is nearing the end of his second tenure as interim dean of the school, told students to take advantage of low application numbers to get into the nation’s top law programs, but urged them to “choose wisely” when determining what to do after graduation.

“If you’re thinking about public interest work or the government and you’re going to have to borrow 150,000 dollars for the law school and you already have student loan debt, maybe that’s not such a great idea,” Maggs said. “But if you find an economical way to go to law school, do it.”

Lerman, who is a member of the law school's search committee, has said the next dean will have to make decisions about whether or not the school should shrink its average class size as applications to law schools nationally decrease.

“I’ve heard different opinions. I’ve asked this question and different candidates have said different things,” Lerman said in a meeting last month. “If the application pool continues to decline, one might need a strategy to figure the law school to be stable at a lower number.”

Each search committee decides whether to release the names of dean candidates. Last year, a faculty committee in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences opted not to make public the names of candidates who came to campus, though they had said the search’s final phase would be transparent.

The search is the first since a group of faculty in the No. 20 law school tried to push out former dean Paul Schiff Berman in fall 2012, with some calling for a no-confidence vote. Berman stepped down to move over to an online education position in the provost’s office.

During the law school’s last dean search in 2011, the candidates’ names were not disclosed by the school, but the final two candidates were reported by The Hatchet.

In GW’s other dean search, business school professors have disclosed the names of four candidates who have visited campus over the last month, including a former CEO, two deans and an associate dean.

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