GW still looking to fill law school’s top spot

GW Law School students and faculty still are awaiting GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s selection of the school’s next dean from two remaining candidates.

Law school faculty members chose three finalists in late April and Trachtenberg’s final decision is expected soon. One of the finalists already has accepted a position with another school.

Roger Schechter, chair of the Dean Search Committee, said he believes Trachtenberg’s decision is imminent.

Current Dean Jack Friedenthal announced last fall he will step down at the end of this month. Friedenthal will continue as a professor in the law school.

Schechter would not say who the faculty approved as finalists, but Washington’s Legal Times reported in May that one of the three is a GW faculty member.

Four faculty members applied for the position, but only Peter Raven-Hansen reached the final cut, the Legal Times reported.

Raven-Hansen specializes in civil procedure and national security law. He has been at GW since 1980 and was the law school’s associate dean for academic affairs during the 1996-97 academic year.

Michael Young, another finalist, is a professor of Japanese and Korean law at Columbia University, the Legal Times reported.

Young worked at the State Department during the Bush administration and since has served as director of the Center for Japanese and Korean Legal Studies at Columbia.

The third finalist, Russell Osgood, recently became president of Grinnell College in Iowa. He previously served as dean of Cornell University’s law school.

Sources close to the search said they believe Osgood was the leading candidate and was in discussions with Trachtenberg about the GW spot before accepting the position at Grinnell.

“I think Osgood was most of the constituencies’ top choice,” said Student Bar Association President Scott Mory. “The students were definitely thrilled with him.”

Mory said he is not surprised by the amount of time Trachtenberg is taking to reach a final decision.

“For it to take a month to go through the candidates is not an excessively long time,” Mory said. “It’s a big choice.”

But Mory characterized the entire search process as “long” and “excessive,” with 10 applicants interviewing on campus. However, he credited the faculty with competently coordinating the search and getting the job done.

He also said he hopes the search is expedited next year if Trachtenberg fails to make a selection this year.

“Until a dean is appointed, I’d say an interim dean is a possibility,” Mory said.

Schechter said he is happy with the diversity of the applicant pool. “I am very pleased,” he said. “We saw a really talented cross section of people.”

Trachtenberg declined to comment on the dean search.

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