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UNC begins interviewing law school dean candidates

Five candidates to become the new dean of the University of North Carolina School of Law will visit the school’s campus this month for interviews and presentations. The school announced on April 1 itineraries for the five candidates.University of North Carolina Old Well

The five candidates are Robert Ahdieh, vice dean and law professor at Emory University School of Law; Michelle Anderson, dean and law professor at CUNY School of Law; Sam Bagenstos, law professor at the University of Michigan Law School; Martin Brinkley, partner at Smith Anderson Law Firm in Raleigh and former president of the North Carolina Bar Association; and Daniel Crane, associate dean and law professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

The visits begin April 6, with Crane being the first to visit, and will conclude Bagenstos’ visit on April 27 and 28. Full itineraries for the candidates, along with their detailed biographies, are available on the school’s website.

Mike Smith, dean of the UNC School of Government, is heading the 14-member search committee, which includes a mix of faculty, alumni and representatives of other segments of the university. Smith said that the search committee is looking for a candidate who has superior leadership skills, can fundraise well, and understands the changes currently going in legal education and how best to navigate them.

“We are looking for somebody who can lead the law school during what is a challenging time for all law schools and create some compelling vision for the future of the law school and help them realize that,” Smith said. “These are all impressive people who’ve done impressive things. Now, who do we think has the best skill set, based on what we’ve learned, to lead Carolina going forward?”

Smith described the remaining candidates as “a very strong final pool” and said that the search committee was very happy with how the process was playing out.

The new dean will succeed Jack Boger, who has served as the school’s dean since 2006 and is stepping down July 1. The search committee expects to have a new dean in place to begin on that date, although Smith said it was still unclear when the new dean might be announced.

The committee plans to offer its recommendations to UNC Provost James Dean in May, at which point Dean will consider the recommendations and decide whether to bring candidates in for further interviews. Terms of employment will also need to be negotiated with the chosen candidate. Smith said that Dean would move on the recommendations as quickly as possible and was hopeful that an announcement could be made in early or mid-June.

The school will be streaming the candidates’ presentations on its website and offering alumni an opportunity to provide feedback on the candidates. Smith, who chaired the search committee that helped tap Boger nine years ago, was enthusiastic about the prospect of garnering greater input from the law school community, and said that the committee would take that feedback very seriously.

“It would have been a dream to have been able to do something like this [nine years ago],” Smith said. “It gathers more perspectives and feedback for the committee, which is good. It’s also a way to connect alums that are far way, and give them a chance to have some input.”

Follow David Donovan on Twitter @NCLWDonovan

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