Law Professors, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs: Northwestern Law Announces Its New Dean

Almost a year ago, David Van Zandt, one of the most admired figures within legal education, announced his departure as dean of Northwestern Law School. Van Zandt moved to New York, leaving behind his multimillion-dollar mansion in Chicago, to assume the presidency of the New School (a move that made headlines here in NYC).

A search committee went to work, to try and find someone to fill Dean Van Zandt’s large shoes. Today the law school announced its new leader.

The new Northwestern Law dean, like his predecessor, is a distinguished scholar. He also comes with a strong track record as a law school administrator.

Who is he? Let’s find out….

Daniel Rodriguez

The new dean of Northwestern Law will be Professor Daniel Rodriguez, who currently holds the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law. He will take over as dean effective January 1, 2012, from Professor Kimberly Yuracko, who has been serving as interim dean since Dean Van Zandt’s departure.

Rodriguez’s background is impressive. Here’s an excerpt from the internal memorandum announcing his selection:

Professor Rodriguez, a graduate of the Harvard Law School, is a nationally prominent scholar in administrative law, local government law, and state constitutional law. He is a leader in the application of political economy to the study of public law, and he has authored and co-authored a series of influential articles and book chapters in this vein.

Before joining the University of Texas law faculty in 2007, Rodriguez served for seven years as Dean and the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. While serving as Dean, he expanded the size and stature of the faculty, created interdisciplinary programs and new academic centers, and undertook the first major capital campaign for the law school.

So he comes with experience in one of a law school dean’s top priorities: rakin’ in the dough. This is good news for Northwestern students: the more he can raise, the less you have to pay (hopefully).

UPDATE (3 PM): You can read more about Daniel Rodriguez’s tenure as USD Law dean from Brian Leiter (via ABA Journal). Professor Leiter named Rodriguez to his list of “nine transformative deans in the last decade.”

Back to the NU Law announcement:

Before becoming Dean at the USD School of Law, he was a tenured professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall School of Law). He has been a visiting professor at the University of Southern California, Illinois, and Virginia law schools, as well as at the University of California, San Diego and the Free University of Amsterdam. During the Spring 2011 semester, he was the Stephen & Barbara Friedman Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.

That’s quite the academic pedigree. Note, however, Rodriguez’s lack of a Ph.D. — which was practically a prerequisite for joining the tenured faculty at Northwestern during the tenure of Dean Van Zandt, who himself has a Ph.D., in sociology. Dean Van Zandt’s emphasis on Ph.D. degrees was somewhat controversial: advocates argued that adding doctorate holders to the faculty enhanced Northwestern’s academic stature, but critics claimed that it caused the school to lose out on some otherwise excellent academics who just had J.D. degrees. Will Dean Rodriguez relax, or even abandon, this focus on Ph.D. recruiting?

It will also be interesting to find out what Dean Rodriguez thinks of law school rankings. Unlike many other top law school deans, Dean Van Zandt was not a hater of the influential but controversial U.S. News rankings. As you may recall, he once wrote a guest column for Above the Law, arguing that the rankings perform useful functions and should be mended, not ended. [FN1]

In the latest U.S. News rankings, Northwestern took the #12 spot. Will the school be able to crack the top 10 under the leadership of a Wise Latino? Stay tuned.

Congratulations to incoming Dean Daniel Rodriguez, and best of luck to him in his new post.

[FN1] We generally do not accept guest posts at Above the Law, so please don’t send them to us; we unfortunately don’t have the staff to review them. But here’s one exception to that rule: if you are the dean of an ABA-accredited law school and would like to comment on an issue of importance to the legal education system or legal profession, we would certainly at least take a look at your proposed commentary and consider for possible publication. You can send it to us via email (subject line: “Law School Dean Guest Post”). Thanks.

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW — INTERNAL MEMORANDUM — NEW DEAN

To: Northwestern Law Community

From: NU Provost Dan Linzer

Re: Northwestern University Announces New Law School Dean

It is with great pleasure that President Schapiro and I announce that Daniel Rodriguez, currently the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, has accepted our invitation to serve as Dean of Northwestern University School of Law and Harold Washington Professor, effective January 1, 2012. He succeeds David Van Zandt, who had served as the Dean of the school from 1995 to 2010, and Kim Yuracko, who has been serving as interim dean of the School and will continue to do so until the end of the calendar year.

Professor Rodriguez, a graduate of the Harvard Law School, is a nationally prominent scholar in administrative law, local government law, and state constitutional law. He is a leader in the application of political economy to the study of public law, and he has authored and co-authored a series of influential articles and book chapters in this vein.

Before joining the University of Texas law faculty in 2007, Rodriguez served for seven years as Dean and the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law. While serving as Dean, he expanded the size and stature of the faculty, created interdisciplinary programs and new academic centers, and undertook the first major capital campaign for the law school.

Before becoming Dean at the USD School of Law, he was a tenured professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall School of Law). He has been a visiting professor at the University of Southern California, Illinois, and Virginia law schools, as well as at the University of California, San Diego and the Free University of Amsterdam. During the Spring 2011 semester, he was the Stephen & Barbara Friedman Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.

In addition to his scholarly work, Professor Rodriguez has consulted with federal, state and local agencies, has served as an expert witness, has testified before Congressional committees and legislative working groups, and has served in various professional leadership roles, including as a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools and the Council for the ABA Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. He is an elected member of both the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation.

We are very excited about the appointment of Professor Rodriguez as Dean of the Law School. Please join me in congratulating him and welcoming him to Northwestern University. Please also join me in thanking Interim Dean Kim Yuracko for her outstanding service, and the search committee, and particularly chair Shari Seidman Diamond, for the committee’s excellent work.

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW — PRESS RELEASE — NEW DEAN

NORTHWESTERN NAMES NEW LAW DEAN
Legal scholar Daniel Rodriguez will become new law dean in January

CHICAGO — Daniel B. Rodriguez, the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, has been appointed dean of Northwestern University School of Law and Harold Washington Professor, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

“President Schapiro and I are extremely pleased that Professor Rodriguez, who is known nationally for his legal scholarship and public law work, has accepted our offer,” said Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer. “We are confident that his talents are well suited for leading our great law school.”

Rodriguez, who also is a former dean at the University of San Diego Law School, succeeds David Van Zandt, who had served as dean of Northwestern’s law school since 1995. (Northwestern Law Professor Kim Yuracko has served as interim dean of the law school and will continue to do so until the end of the calendar year.)

While dean of the University of San Diego Law School, Rodriguez expanded the size and stature of the faculty, created interdisciplinary academic and professional programs and undertook the first major capital campaign for the law school. Before coming to USD, Rodriguez was a tenured professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He has been a visiting professor at the law schools at Columbia, University of Southern California, University of Illinois and the University of Virginia. He is a nationally prominent scholar in administrative law, local government law, statutory interpretation, and state constitutional law.

Rodriguez also has consulted with federal, state and local agencies, served as an expert witness, testified before congressional committees and legislative working groups and served in various professional leadership roles, including as a member of the executive committee of the Association of American Law Schools and the council for the American Bar Association Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation.

“I am very much looking forward to the opportunity,” said Rodriguez, “to help Northwestern’s distinguished law school achieve new levels of excellence and reputation. There is much upon which to build, yet there is much more to be done.”

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