Law school searches for new dean

The search is on for a new GW Law School dean after former Dean Michael Young became the president at University of Utah this summer.

GW officials said they expect to begin interviews for the position in late fall and present their recommendations to President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg in February.

A search committee composed of seven faculty members and GW Vice President and General Counsel Dennis Blumer has been assembled to help select a new dean and is now advertising the position and accepting applications, said Peter Raven-Hansen, a law professor and the committee’s co-chair.

Until the search committee reaches a decision, Roger Trangsrud, the school’s senior associate dean for academic affairs, has taken over as interim dean.

Over the past several weeks, the search committee has interviewed faculty at the law school to develop a collective vision for the future, said law Professor Karen Brown, a committee member. The committee will now have to search for a new dean that possesses those desired qualities.

“We’re looking for somebody who will solidify our position and take us to a new level in the law school community,” Brown said.

She said the faculty members she spoke to are interested in international growth, attracting important scholars and facilitating better faculty-student relations.

“We need to become more of a community here,” law professor Mary Cheh said. “I hope that the next dean is somebody who not only cares about raising money and raising our profile, but who looks inwards too.”

But building the Law School community may prove to be no easy task. At 1,600 students, GW is among the top five largest law schools in the nation.

“In many ways this is like running a small college,” Raven-Hansen said. “We need somebody who has the talent or experience or energy to take on this task.”

Young’s replacement will have a tough act to follow – the school was ranked 20th by U.S. News & World Report this year under Young’s leadership.

Trangsrud described the ideal candidate as a prominent scholar with effective management and -* skills. While Trangsrud said he does not plan on applying for the position, Brown said she expects the interim dean and several other faculty members to step up as candidates.

“(Trangsrud) has done an absolutely fantastic job as associate dean, and we’ll look at outside candidates as well,” Brown said.

The school’s previous two deans did not come from GW’s ranks, but the one before that came from the faculty. Brown said the committee has no particular preference for candidates from either inside or outside the school. She also said that the school would accept applications from people with diverse backgrounds and seek out some potential candidates.

Faculty members said there have been no major disruptions at the school during this transition, and they are confident it will remain a smooth process.

“There’s always a lot of anxiety and uncertainty and concern that arises over what the future holds,” Cheh said. “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.”

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