Arizona State searches for new law dean

Douglas Sylvester’s tenure as dean at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law has come to an end.

Sylvester decided to step down after a 10-year stint due to personal reasons. In those ten years he oversaw the school’s move to a new $129 million building downtown, and its growth in terms of number of students and improvement in various rankings. Under his leadership, Arizona State made a point of promoting its affordability and its reputation as one of the nation’s higher-ranked public institutions.

“I like to think that the word has gotten out [about] what the law school has been doing since 2011,” Sylvester said three years ago. “We’re a unicorn. No one is quite like us.”

Until the school hires a replacement, Adam Chodorow and Zachary Kramer will serve as co-deans. Given the circumstances, ASU has asked Sylvester to remain in a consultative capacity for the upcoming school year.

Sylvester joined ASU in 2002 as an associate professor, then quickly rose through the ranks to become a full professor, then associate dean for faculty research and development in 2008 before being appointed dean. He ended up being one the longest-tenured deans in the history of the school and helped transform it in many ways.

“Since becoming dean over a decade ago, Dean Sylvester has played an integral role in transforming ASU Law from a strong regional law school to one of the most important institutions of legal training in the world,” Nancy Gonzales, ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost, said. “Under his leadership, the law school has added dozens of new faculty, almost doubled enrollment of incoming JD students nationally and internationally, increased diversity, achieved financial self-sufficiency — all while moving up to be the youngest law school in the nation ranked in the top 25.”

Chodorow and Kramer bring many years’ worth of experience to the table, both at ASU Law and elsewhere. Chodorow has been with ASU Law since 2004, most recently as vice dean and the Jack E. Brown Professor of Law. Prior to that, he worked on energy-related litigation and regulatory matters for Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Francisco. Kramer joined the ASU Law faculty in 2010 and has most recently served as the executive associate dean and the Jonathan and Wendy Rose Professor of Law. Previously, he taught at Penn State and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He also served as the editor-in-chief of the University of Illinois Law Review while attending the school.

“Dean Sylvester has been a tremendous leader in every respect,” Kramer said. “Under his leadership, the last decade has been transformative for ASU Law. It has been a huge honor for us to be a part of it.”

“We are excited to build on Dean Sylvester’s accomplishments and are looking forward to building an even brighter future,” Chodorow said. “The law school will continue to provide the best possible legal education in the country at the most innovative university in the world. Classes will be live and in-person and have among the brightest and most inclusive group of students anywhere.”

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