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Friday, August 27, 2010

Van Zandt steps down as dean at Northwestern

David Van Zandt, long-serving dean at Northwestern (my beloved alma mater) is stepping down to become president of The New School in New York. Van Zandt has served as dean since 1995 (he was hired during my 1L year) and has overseen some major curricular and faculty initiatives. These include an overwhelming emphasis on hiring JD/PhD's doing interdisciplinary and empirical scholarship, the development of an accelerated (and controversial) two-calendar-year JD program and three-year JD/MBA program, and curricular additions focusing on the "business" of practicing law. He also instituted one of the earliest formal VAP programs for people trying to break into law teaching (NU hired VAPs back in 1998) and formalized certain programs designed to prepare students for teaching careers.

Not everything he has done has universally praised. But even Brian Leiter, a frequent critique of the way Van Zandt has played the U.S. News game, labels him a "transformative" dean, saying "very few law school Deans have stamped a law school with as clear an identity" as he has. It will be interesting to see what direction the faculty takes in choosing a successor and whether the dean change reflects a course change for the school.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on August 27, 2010 at 12:06 PM in Howard Wasserman, Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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