Southern Methodist University — Dean of the Dedman School of Law

Southern Methodist University, the premier private university of North Texas, seeks a new Dean for the Dedman School of Law (https://www.smu.edu/law) as it embarks on SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow, a $1.5 billion campaign to attract and support outstanding students and faculty, to explore new fields with cutting-edge research empowered by future-facing technologies, and to positively impact Dallas and the world beyond. With appointment beginning in advance of the fall 2022 semester, the new Dean will lead the planning for Dedman Law’s centennial celebration in 2025.

With the support of the Provost and a resourceful and deeply invested Board of Trustees, Executive Board, and alumni, the new Dean will lead a law school that, together with SMU’s Cox School of Business, has already had an outsized impact on the commercial and civic life of its community. Dedman Law faculty are prominent participants in the bar and are highly sought after as media commentators. The faculty features numerous recipients of university-level teaching and research awards as well as national and international awards and distinctions. Dedman Law alumni constitute a strong and long-established leadership network on the bench and in the partnership ranks of the most prominent law firms in North Texas, with a notable record of community leadership and pro bono service.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (“DFW”), the fourth largest metropolitan area in the U. S., is an ideal location for a pre- eminent private law school to complement and successfully compete with public institutions. Dubbed the “Silicon Prairie,” DFW has become a magnet for company headquarters over the past decade, with 140 headquarters relocations to the region from across the U.S. and abroad, including more than 45 companies moving from California. The Metroplex has surpassed Chicago as the top headquarters location for Fortune 500 companies: 22 now make DFW their home.

The new Dean will have the opportunity to freshly position Dedman Law as the law school of choice for employers and student matriculants seeking careers in DFW, as SMU consolidates its reputation as the anchor and go-to university for the region and as an incubator of national and international professional talent. The school is currently ranked 52nd in US News and World Report and aspires to reach and maintain top-50 status. With 41 full-time, 12 clinical, and 74 adjunct faculty members, and a student enrollment of 782, the Dedman School of Law offers a full-time JD program, joint JD/MBA programs on a four-year or three-year fast track, a JD/LLM in taxation program, three LLM programs, and an SJD program. The Dedman School of Law is committed to the success of a diverse student body: currently 33 percent of its first-year class are students of color and approximately 50 percent are female.

Following a successful deanship that raised $50 million, delivered balanced budgets every year, and led the School in establishing and augmenting financial support for five prominent interdisciplinary centers and institutes (https://www.smu.edu/Law/Centers), the new Dean will sustain these initiatives, inaugurate a pilot on-line master’s program commensurate with SMU’s distance learning ambitions, and develop and retain faculty who complement the School’s established excellence across multiple disciplines and in experiential learning. Distinctions include corporate and commercial law; graduate and international degree programs first established in 1949; the new Inns of Court program that matches small groups of first-year students with faculty, upper-level students, and attorney mentors; and a flourishing clinical program that offers 11 clinics and other projects that serve the public. Robust externship programs place students with in-house legal operations, judges, and not-for- profit and governmental legal departments. The Mustang Exchange, the first and only law school mentorship program of its kind, is an innovative “flash” mentorship program that connects each law student with multiple one-on-one mentoring meetings. With robust enrollment operations that have bucked national law school admissions trends, and the best law school career services office in Texas, the Dedman School has expert functional support for the new Dean.

SMU’s Dedman School of Law seeks as its new Dean a prominent leader in the legal academy who will be a visible, credible, and effective advocate and promoter for the School, while also overseeing new program development and providing expertise and service in realizing SMU’s ambition to gain Carnegie Classification as a Research One (R1) university. Candidates must possess a JD, at least ten years of experience in the teaching of law, and a record that meets the School’s criteria for tenure at the full professor rank. Competitive candidates will evidence experience in or aptitude for building collaborative and sustainable academic programs; engaging and stewarding alumni; cultivating corporate and philanthropic supporters; and realizing institutional commitments to diversity and inclusion. Applications should demonstrate the candidate’s readiness to pursue collaboration across SMU’s other academic units; to provide professional mentorship for early-career law professors and students; and to lead a student-focused law school that nurtures high affinity among all its constituents. An aptitude and appetite for inaugurating on-line programs, developing innovative custom academic programs, capital and facilities fundraising, and raising endowments for named faculty chairs, scholarships, and public interest funding, will be essential to success in this deanship.

Review of candidate materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment. A complete application will include a letter of interest, a current curriculum vitae, and contact information for five professional references who can speak about the candidate’s qualifications for this position. Named referees will not be contacted without the candidate’s prior consent. Expressions of interest, applications, nominations, and inquiries should be directed to SMU’s search consultant, Mr. Chuck O’Boyle of C. V. O’Boyle, Jr., LLC, at chuck@cvoboyle.com, who will be able to furnish a detailed specification.

SMU will not discriminate in any employment practice, educational program, or educational activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, disability, genetic information, or veteran status.

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