Matthew J. Wilson, dean of The University of Akron School of Law, says he’s “all about non-tradition.” Tracing Wilson’s path to and through legal academe suggests he may be more about following tradition in surprisingly unconventional ways. The pattern starts with his decision to become a lawyer, when he was 4 years old.
Penelope Andrews, president of Albany Law School of Union University, moved into legal academia in the mid-1980s because of both identity and circumstance: She was a black woman from South Africa, at Columbia Law on a student visa and completing her degree during the height of apartheid. Happily, a Columbia law professor suggested she teach law in the British Commonwealth, rather than return home, where she feared arrest amid a state of emergency declared by the South African government. She walked into her first teaching assignments in Australia, and so began the passion she calls a career.
If there is one thing that Patricia Salkin knows – better, perhaps, than the land use laws on which she is expert and the intersection of law and governmental affairs where her experience is longstanding – it’s the life stories of her students at Touro College’s Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. And if there is one thing that infuriates and energizes Salkin, the law center’s dean, it’s that the data used to recommend a law school (or not) – don’t reflect the quality education her students receive and the opportunities available to them.
The story of Douglas J. Sylvester, dean of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, comprises brinksmanship, gratefulness and the road nearly missed, but not for lack of trying. “I loved learning new things, but my undergraduate courses at the University of Toronto felt so unreal, except for the joint law and political science classes I took during my last two years,” he said. “They made me realize that in law the matters you deal with affect real people: The unfairness, the injustice– it’s all real. I knew I’d love law school from day one.”
Eduardo Peñalver’s social activism started started long before he led Cornell classmates in their 1993 takeover of the university’s administrative office building: His parents had taken him on their protest marches at nuclear submarine bases in Washington State. His resulting drive for social transformation led him to law school, legal academe and now, to the position of dean at Cornell Law.
Michael M. Martin’s relationship with Fordham Law School began in 1972 with a love affair — he looked for a law teaching job in New York to be with the woman he married — and ended up as a love affair. Dean since 2011, he says he’s lucky to be at a school where even the new building reflects its sense of community and family-like culture.
The University of Wisconsin Law School has long prided itself on its “law in action” educational philosophy. Perhaps that’s why Margaret Raymond considers herself the law school’s “dean in action” – an engaged, hands-on administrator who cites her own legal education as a life-transforming experience.
Terry McManus’s career in fund-raising began with a college internship on a losing Senate campaign. The job included making cold calls to potential donors, and the skills he began to develop then and has honed in the 14 years since will support him as Boston University Law’s new assistant dean of development and alumni relations, a post he began in May.
Before becoming dean of The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, Daniel F. Attridge spent more than 32 years as a litigator at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, a major international firm, including 14 years as managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office. That experienced grounded him in the management skills that a dean needs to deal with students, faculty, staff and alumni along with university administrators.