May 27, 2011
Women made a strong showing in recent law school dean searches, accounting for about
40% of the deans named in recent months.
"I think it's great," said Ann Bartow, a professor at Pace Law School and an administrator of the Feminist Law Professors blog. "There were still some law schools in the 1990s that didn't have any women on their faculties. Twenty years later, to see all these law schools with women deans is quite remarkable."
The most recent example was at Texas Tech University School of Law, which announced on May 26 that Darby Dickerson would assume its deanship on July 29. Dickerson now serves as dean of Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., where she has been on the faculty since 1995. She will replace Walter Huffman, who stepped down in 2010.
Other recent hires of women as law deans include:
• Margaret Raymond at the University of Wisconsin Law School.
• Stacy Leeds at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
• Annette Clark at Saint Louis University School of Law.
• Jane Korn at Gonzaga University School of Law.
• Maria Pabon Lopez at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law.
• Deanell Tacha at Pepperdine University School of Law.
• Wendy Perdue at the University of Richmond School of Law.
Having a woman at the helm of a law school sends a strong message that women are as qualified as men in legal academia, Bartow said. They also are more aware of the challenges women face in the academy, such as the responsibility of caring for children, she said.
A report released by the American Bar Association in 2009 found that women made up 62% of assistant deans at the time, but only 21% of law deans.
Dickerson has been dean at Stetson since 2004, and teaches alternative dispute resolution, torts, federal pretrial practice and legal research and writing.
"Dean Dickerson has an impressive track record, maintaining Stetson's number one-ranked trial advocacy program and building a highly-ranked legal writing program," Texas Tech Provost Bob Smith said in a written statement. "She oversaw many new programs as well as an increase in quality and diversity in the student body. We are confident that she will lead Texas Tech's law school to achieve many great accomplishments."
The move represents something of a homecoming for Dickerson, who used to practice in Texas. Her primary goals include enhancing the law school's skills training, adding internship and clinical opportunities for students outside of Lubbock, and getting the school's new master of laws program up and running.
"I really fell in love with the spirit and enthusiasm of the faculty, staff and alumni at Texas Tech," Dickerson said. "I was also attracted because it's a value school. It's a great education and it's affordable, which is very important in this economy."