The GW Law School will begin searching for a new dean following last month’s announcement that current dean Michael Young will assume the presidency of the University of Utah.
Utah’s Board of Regents, which oversees public education in the state, announced April 29 that Young would become its president starting this summer. Young was one of three finalists for the position.
“Given where the university is now, and given what his priorities and his experience are … his capabilities make him the best fit,” said Dave Buhler, Utah’s associate commissioner for higher education.
The Law School will soon select a committee of faculty members to search for a new dean, said Roger Trangsrud, the school’s senior associate dean for academic affairs. Trangsrud said he was unsure when the committee would convene to start the selection process.
After the committee interviews candidates, it will send its recommendations to University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. Until then, Trachtenberg will select an interim dean to occupy the Law School’s top post.
Any prospective dean candidates would have to be qualified to serve as a tenured GW law professor and “demonstrate leadership potential and effectiveness in dealing with constituents,” Trangsrud said.
“(I) would think the faculty would be interested in some evidence or potential for fundraising,” he added.
Law School faculty praised Young for hiring more distinguished professors, increasing the school’s ranking and playing a role in the recent expansion and renovation of its facilities.
“(I)f you were to compare the physical facility that he inherited with what he leaves behind, you have to be impressed,” associate law professor Steven Schooner said.
Schooner said the process of selecting a new dean could be disruptive to the law school.
“First of all, it’s time consuming, and it’s an appointment that everyone on the faculty cares about, so it will be a huge time drain on the search committee,” he said.
Although faculty and students said they are disappointed to see Young leave, they said the Law School will keep its reputation as one of the best in the nation.
“He’s put down a good foundation,” law student Erica Spector said. “We have a good support staff, and the other deans in place are really good.”
Trangsrud said Young’s departure would not adversely affect the Law School.
“I don’t think (Young’s departure) will have an immediate effect on the Law School,” Trangsrud said. “The initiatives and the programs and the plans he’s put in place will continue to go forward and will be implemented.”
Young said he believes he was selected to be Utah’s next president because of the success of the Law School, which was ranked 20th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report this year.
“I think they … kept looking at the things happening at the Law School and at the University,” Young said. “That (success) is the result of a large community of people working together.”
In an interview last week, Young said he is prepared to help the University of Utah achieve its goal of becoming a premier research institution.
“They were very interested in the kinds of experience I had in a lot of different areas, including facilitating research,” Young said. “It’s a great research institution.”
Young, who attended Brigham Young University, which is also located in Utah, is a direct descendant of one of the Mormon leader’s younger brothers. He said he is looking forward to having the chance to return to the state.