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Law School Roundup: Deans' Musical Chairs; UT's KKK Connection

Vivia Chen

July 6, 2010

Georgetown_law It's musical chair season for deans at some of the nation's law schools.

The biggest news is that William Treanor, dean of Fordham Law School, is jumping ship to Georgetown University Law Center. It's a nifty upgrade for Treanor: He's going from a thirty-fourth-ranked law school to one that's in fourteenth place--not that anyone cares about those silly rankings.

According to Above The Law, though, Treanor's move is ruffling some feathers. It seems that the folks at Georgetown knew about it before the students and alums at Fordham:

Dean Treanor did send out an e-mail to Fordhamites, but it was sent over two- and-a-half hours after Georgetown kids got the giddy news, and two hours after [ATL's] post went up. A two-hour delay may seem inconsequential to some, but in the world of instant news and communication, it’s unforgivable in the minds of some Fordham folk.

One alum was so miffed that s/he told ATL: "Oh! and how convenient after he was a strong cause for Fordham dropping in the rankings from 25 to the 30’s. Oh ya Bulldogs. That was a great steal." (In 2008, Fordham ranked twenty-fifth place in US News & World Report; most recently, it ranked 34.)

Note to partners on the move: Tell the firm that you're dumping that you are moving on--at least before your new firm sends out press releases about all the big clients you'll be poaching. And let's hope that Treanor won't work his magic on Georgetown's rankings the way he did at Fordham.

Other law school deans on the move: John Garvey, the dean of Boston College Law School since 1999, will be the new president of Catholic University of America. Camille Nelson, a professor of law at Hofstra University School of Law, has been named the new dean of Suffolk University Law School, becoming the first woman and person of color to hold that position in the school's 104-year history. Joe Harroz is the new dean of the College of Law at University of Oklahoma.

And finally this from my home state of Texas: The University of Texas has some bones in its closet that it needs to bury. From the Statesman.com:

Cadet_William_S._Simpkins Simkins Residence Hall is the last all-male dormitory at the University of Texas. Tucked into a quiet corner of campus along Waller Creek, it was the first men's dorm with air conditioning.

It is notable for another reason as well: Simkins is named for a UT law professor who was a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

William Stewart Simkins (pictured right), who taught at the School of Law for 30 years until his death in 1929, organized the Klan in Florida after the Civil War along with his brother, Eldred, who later became a member of the UT System Board of Regents.

The article says that UT's current administrators didn't know about Simkins's history until recently, when a former UT law professor, Tom Russell, wrote about the dorm's history.

So what action is UT taking? "Gregory Vincent, UT's vice president for diversity and community engagement, said [that] university president William Powers, Jr., has charged him with forming a work group of students, faculty members, and staff members and with reporting back with recommendations on whether to rename the dorm by the end of June," reports the Statesman.

Hello, it's July already! Where's the committee and what's the plan of action? Does UT and its highly respected law school really need this kind of image for its students and alums? C'mon, giddy-up, UT.

If you have topics you'd like to discuss, or information to share for The Careerist, e-mail chief blogger Vivia Chen at VChen@alm.com.

Top photo: Dan Stanfield.


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One can't help but wonder, will the same sort of response apply to the late Senator Robert Byrd and the host of federal pork barrel projects he had named after himself?

For media and blog coverage of the Texas Klan Dorm controversy, as well as a link to my paper (which ignited the controversy), see http://simkins.houseofrussell.com

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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