Updated: June 9, 2014 at 2:51 p.m.
The next dean of the GW Law School will arrive on campus in September after seven years leading Wake Forest University’s law school, officials announced Monday.
Blake D. Morant will take control of GW’s No. 20-ranked school on Sept. 1, bringing expertise in media and administrative law to the school that has spent 18 months without a permanent head.
A double alumnus from the University of Virginia, Morant is the second black dean in GW history. The other dean, Ben Vinson, just completed his first year as the leader of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
Morant is the president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools, and will serve as president in 2015. He has also served as the vice chair of the American Bar Association’s diversity council.
Amid declining applications to law schools nationwide, Morant will face a tough decision: swell the size of incoming classes, at the expense of selectivity, or keep first-year classes at about 500 students.
Wake Forest’s law school, ranked No. 31 by U.S. News & World Report, specializes in health care law and runs several pro-bono law clinics that focus on elder law and child advocacy. GW has made a name for itself among highly-competitive law schools nationwide for its strong intellectual property and environmental law programs.
Before becoming the dean of Wake Forest’s law school in 2007, Morant was a professor at several schools including Washington and Lee and American universities. He also spent two summers working at the office of the general counsel at NASA.
GW’s admissions rate increased by nearly 13 percentage points this year, after the school accepted 80 more students than it had the previous year. The average LSAT score of this year’s first-year class decreased by two points, though the average GPA increased.
Ten candidates visited campus in April as part of the last round of interviews before the school’s search committee narrowed down the list. The law school holds a full faculty vote to hone in on its top candidates, unlike most schools at the University that allow a search committee to decide.
Morant is the second sitting dean GW has brought in to lead one of its schools in the last month. Linda Livingstone, who will lead the GW School of Business starting in August, spent the last 12 years as dean of the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University.
Morant will come to GW after a group of faculty tried to push out then-dean Paul Schiff Berman in fall 2012. Some professors looked to hold a school-wide vote of no confidence that would oust him from his post.
Berman was shuffled to the provost’s office, where he works to build GW’s online education programs from the ground up. Berman only served as dean for 18 months before leaving the law school.
Faculty kept the names of the candidates under wraps after Berman’s departure.
The University’s choice marks the end of Gregory Maggs’ second stint as the law school’s interim dean.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the average LSAT score of this year’s first-year class increased by two points. It actually decreased by two points. We regret this error.