Friday, December 20, 2013
This is the time of year when law schools begin announcing the appointment of new deans. For example, Jean Holloway was just named dean of Hamline law school http://www.startribune.com/local/east/236615541.html, and SMU http://www.dallasnews.com/business/headlines/20131217-smu-selects-new-law-school-dean.ece, and IU Maurer http://info.law.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2013/12/maurer-school-dean-appointment.shtml have made announcements over the last few days.
For the new dean designate, the time after the announcement can be a bit awkward. I remember how I felt in high school when I asked someone on Wednesday to go out on a date on Saturday. In the rare instance when the answer was “yes,” I would always hope that I wouldn’t see her again until Saturday, because I had no idea what to say to her in that awkward time in between. Being a dean designate can feel a little like that.
Despite the awkwardness, the time between the announcement and the first day on the job can be a useful period for an outside dean to learn more about their new law school. New deans should ask to be put on the law school listserv, or other email lists immediately, so that they can be connected with their new communities, as soon as possible. It is also important for the dean designate to receive copies of faculty meeting minutes, and information about important law school events that occur during that time. This is helpful, because there is no way that outside dean candidates can learn everything they need to know about a new school during the interview process. Faculty meeting minutes, events, and daily email exchanges are invaluable in helping the new dean assess strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. They can also be useful tools in helping to understand the many different people who will soon be their colleagues.
Congratulations to everyone who has just been appointed, and best wishes in your new endeavors.