9 new deans: Nova, Cornell, SMU, Ave Maria, UDetroit, Atlanta's JM

At least nine new deans will assume control on or before July 1. Here is a summary of each:

• Mark E. Brandon, a constitutional law expert with experience in both academia and private and public law, will serve as dean of The University of Alabama School of Law, his alma mater. His appointment follows a nearly year-long search after the retirement of Ken Randall, who served as dean for some 20 years. William Brewbaker III served as interim dean during the search.

Brandon served as a professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School since 2001, serving stints as the director of the school's program in constitutional law and theory and co-director of its program in law and government. He was the FedEx Research Professor of Law in 2005-2006. 

Brandon grew up in Birmingham and earned his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Montevallo. He earned his J.D. from the University of Alabama in 1978, a Masters of Arts in political science from the University of Michigan in 1986 and a doctorate in politics from Princeton University in 1992.

After earning his law degree, Brandon served as an assistant attorney general for the State of Alabama from 1978-1980. He then served as a staff attorney and consumer unit coordinator for Legal Services Corp. and later took jobs at private law firms.

He then joined academia, serving on the political science faculties at the University of Oklahoma and University of Michigan, receiving tenure and a promotion to associate professor at the University of Michigan, before going to Vanderbilt University. He's a member of the Alabama State Bar and the State Bar of Michigan.

• Stephen M. Sheppard has been named St. Mary's University School of Law's eighth dean. Previously, he served as the Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development at the University of Arkansas School of Law. He succeeds Charles E. Cantú, who served seven years at the San Antonio, Texas-based law school. He will return to teaching.

Sheppard proposed the creation of four academic programs while at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. They include: a non-specialized LLM with student-specific course emphasis; an accelerated degree for foreign lawyers; professional post-J.D certificates; and a nonprofessional graduate degree in law.

He earned his J.D. and LLM from Columbia Law School, as well as a post-J.D. certificate in international law and a Doctor of the Science of Law (DSL) from the same school. He also earned a Master of Letters from Oxford University. He earned his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Sheppard is a member of the Mississippi bar and has practiced law with Phelps Dunbar in New Orleans, Jackson, Miss., and London. He also served as law clerk to U.S. District Judge William Barbour and U.S. Appellate Judge E. Grady Jolly Jr. 

• Jon Garon, a former dean at Hamline University, will assume the deanship at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center, effective July 1. Garon was most recently a professor of law and the founding director of the Chase Law + Informatics Institute at Northern Kentucky University.

He will replace Athornia Steele, who stepped down in September but will return to teaching at NSU. Garon was also previously on the faculty at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. He received his law degree from Columbia Law School.

• Dean Kevin Cieply is the third President and Dean of Ave Maria School of Law, effective July 1, 2014. Cieply, currently the Associate Dean of Academics and Associate Professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, will succeed President and Dean Eugene R. Milhizer who announced in November his decision to step down at the conclusion of the current academic year in order to return to teaching.

Prior to joining the faculty at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 2008, Cieply served for more than 22 years in the Army and Wyoming Army National Guard as a helicopter pilot and a Judge Advocate General Corps Officer. As a JAG Officer, his practice included prosecuting courts-martial cases, prosecuting major criminal procurement fraud cases in federal courts as a full-time Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and serving as the Senior Legal Advisor on all military matters for the Wyoming Army National Guard.

Cieply earned an LLM from The Judge Advocate General’s School and a Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University. He is also a Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Senior Military College Fellow. His undergraduate degree, which he earned at the University of Southern Mississippi, is in political science. He is a member of the Mississippi bar. 

• Malcolm L. Morris will take over as dean of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and the Savannah Law School on July 1, 2014. Morris has previously served two terms as the Associate Dean and one as Interim Dean at Northern Illinois University College of Law. He is currently Director, Graduate Estate Planning Programs, and Associate Director of Graduate Tax Law Programs at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

He has an extensive scholarship record that includes works in both law reviews and practitioner-oriented publications. Morris is a graduate of Cornell University (B.S.), SUNY Buffalo (J.D.), and Northwestern University (LL.M.).

• Eduardo M. Peñalver, an expert in property law and land use, and Cornell faculty member from 2006 to 2012, has been named the next Allan R. Tessler Dean of Cornell Law School. Currently the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, Peñalver will become dean July 1, making him the first Latino dean of an Ivy League law school.

Peñalver succeeds Stewart J. Schwab, who has been dean since 2004. Schwab, a faculty member since 1983, plans to return to teaching at the Law School after a sabbatical in the 2014-15 term.

Peñalver, who received his B.A. from Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1994 and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1999, joined the Cornell faculty in 2006 and the Chicago faculty in 2013. He taught at Fordham Law School from 2003 to 2006 and has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale law schools.

Upon completing law school, he clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Between college and law school, Peñalver studied philosophy and theology as a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford.

• Phyllis L. Crocker will be Dean of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, effective July 1, 2014. Crocker joins UDM from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University, where she is a Professor of Law and recently served as Interim Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. 

Crocker has written extensively on the constitutional, historical, and cultural underpinnings of capital punishment, and has served on many advisory committees as a nationally recognized authority on the death penalty. 

Crocker received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law.  After graduating law school, she clerked for the Honorable Warren J. Ferguson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She was an associate for three years in a Chicago law firm specializing in complex federal civil litigation, including civil rights and commercial class actions. From 1989 to 1994, she was a staff attorney at the Texas Resource Center, a federally-funded community defender organization that represented indigents on death row in their post-conviction appeals. 

• The new dean of SMU’s Dedman School of Law is Jennifer M. Collins, a legal scholar at the intersection of criminal and family law whose background includes extensive academic administration experience as well as service as a federal prosecutor.

Collins joins SMU as the Judge James Noel Dean of Dedman School of Law on July 1, 2014, from Wake Forest University, where she currently serves as vice provost. Collins has been on the law school faculty at Wake Forest since 2003 and was named associate provost in 2010 and vice provost in September 2013. She has continued to teach courses on gender and the law and legal professionalism while serving in the provost’s office.

Collins graduated magna cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard University in 1991, and received her B.A. in history, cum laude with Distinction in the Major, from Yale University in 1987.

Collins clerked for the Hon. Dorothy W. Nelson in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit after graduating from Harvard Law School, and worked briefly in private practice in Washington, D.C., before joining the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel as an attorney-adviser in 1993. Collins served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002, working in the homicide section for the last six of those years and prosecuting more than 30 jury trials.

She returned briefly to private practice in 2002 and joined the faculty of Wake Forest University School of Law in 2003.  While at Wake Forest, Collins has taught criminal law, criminal procedure, family law, and gender and the law. Collins became associate provost for academic and strategic initiatives at Wake Forest in 2010, where she spearheaded the university’s entry into the online and distance education market and developed new initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion across campus. 

Collins succeeds John Attanasio, who served as dean for three terms, from 1998 to 2013. 

University of Florida law professor George L. Dawson has agreed to serve as interim dean for the University of Florida Levin College of Law, beginning July 15.

Dawson is director of the College of Law Summer Program at the University of Montpellier in France. He joined the UF College of Law in 1981 as an associate professor and became a professor in 1984. He served two four-year terms as associate dean for academic affairs.

His previous academic experience includes positions as instructor at the University of Michigan, assistant professor, assistant dean and associate professor at the University of Oregon, and visiting professor at various institutions.

Dawson received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his law degree from the University of Chicago.