Law School Deans, Law Schools, Rankings, U.S. News

Is This Dean the First 2012 Casualty of the U.S. News Law School Rankings?

When we talk about the power of the U.S. News law school rankings, we often talk about how prospective law students choose their schools based on the rankings and little other information.

U.S. News also flexes its muscles by getting law school deans fired. Oh, university presidents never like to admit that they push out deans based on the rankings. But if your law school drops like a stone in the law rankings, your law school dean is going to be looking for work.

Today, we could be staring at our first casualty of this year’s U.S. News rankings. We’ve previously written about the faculty member who tried to cheer up his dean after his law school plummeted again in the rankings. Well, now the dean is on his way out of the door….

The students at the University of Connecticut School of Law were informed today that Dean Jeremy Paul will not be seeking another term. Here’s Dean Paul’s message to students:

Dear Members of the Law School Community:

As has just been announced, Peter Nicholls and I have agreed that next year will be my last as Dean of the Law School. I am extremely proud of the many steps the School has taken under my leadership. We have added eight tenure-track faculty members, dramatically augmenting the quality and the diversity of our teachers and our curriculum. We have launched a successful semester in Washington, D.C. program, inaugurated a Center for Energy and Environmental Law, initiated an S.J. D. program for foreign students, and created a program for undergraduates that will bring some of the best students from Storrs here to Elizabeth Street. Research productivity has never been stronger, and our attractive Year of the Book campaign carried our message throughout the country. Philanthropic support for the Law School continues to grow, and includes a vibrant junior faculty support program and the recently endowed Anthony J. Smits Professor of Global Commerce. A repaired and resplendent library and two newly outfitted classrooms enhance our beautiful campus. Perhaps most important, I have established outstanding leadership teams on both the academic and development sides of our enterprise. I would have enjoyed working with them to help the Law School advance further, and thus this decision is not without personal regret.

Institutional leadership, however, is by definition about more than individual satisfaction. After a sober assessment in recent weeks, and following discussions with many members of the community, I have concluded that the Law School is ready for new leadership. I have served five years as dean, and for 8 years prior to those in associate dean positions. The Law School has implemented many of my ideas, and I am proud to have been rewarded with roles of increasing responsibility. I have tackled them with every resource I could muster. A break from a dean’s hectic pace will do me some good. But more important, the Law School has something to gain from a new pair of eyes providing perspective on how we might best adapt to the rapidly changing landscape for legal education and the legal profession.

Finally, let me offer special thanks to the many law school graduates and friends who have supported me so strongly over the years. It will be a pleasure to continue working with you in 2012-13 as we pave the way for the next chapter in our Law School’s bright future.

Jeremy Paul

UConn has dropped ten spots in the past few years in the U.S. News rankings. Just saying.

As UConn begins its search for a new dean, let’s hope that the school focuses on the things that matter to students: not the school’s U.S. News rank, not the school’s “resplendent” library, but jobs, jobs, jobs.

Earlier: Early Reactions to the U.S. News Rankings: Deans and the Excuses They Make

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