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Law School Dean Search Panel Solicits Student Input

Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow, shown here during Celebration 60 in 2013, defended race-based affirmative action for law school admissions in an amici curiae brief.
Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow, shown here during Celebration 60 in 2013, defended race-based affirmative action for law school admissions in an amici curiae brief.
By Jamie D. Halper, Crimson Staff Writer

After some Harvard Law School students requested more rigorous involvement in the search for the school’s next dean, University President Drew G. Faust has organized a series of panels to hear student perspectives on desirable characteristics of the next dean and the state of the school.

The search began last month after Law School Dean Martha L. Minow announced that she plans to step down at the conclusion of the academic year. A committee of faculty will advise Faust and University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 during the search. Faust also provided an open email account for students to give input on the search.

Three members of the faculty committee and about a dozen students attended the first panel, which was closed to the press, on Wednesday, according to Law School student attendee David D. Heckman. At the meeting, Heckman said students voiced opinions about what they would like to see in the new dean, discussed issues at the school they hope the next dean will address, and asked about the selection process itself.

Law School Dean Martha L. Minow will step down at the conclusion of the academic year.
Law School Dean Martha L. Minow will step down at the conclusion of the academic year. By George J Lok

“There was a pretty frank discussion,” Heckman said. “There was a little bit of ‘what does a dean do?’, and ‘how does that influence the process?’, and then there was just a brief discussion of in terms of ‘what is the process and what is this committee designed to do?’”

Following the panel, the Law School Student Council unanimously passed a resolution requesting that candidates for the deanship complete a ten-point questionnaire prepared by the Council. The Council is sending the resolution to Faust and the advisory committee.

Heckman said he appreciates the administration’s effort to include student input in the search, but maintained that students should have have a more active role in selecting the dean.

“President Faust has her open email address but I think that the feature that you see in both of these are it’s just students talking at” administrators, Heckman said. “There’s a little less engagement and that’s not necessarily participation in the process.”

In an emailed statement emailed, University spokesperson Melodie L. Jackson said Harvard valued the input of Law School students during the search process.

A second panel will be held in Austin Hall on Feb. 14 at 12 p.m.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at jamie.halper@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @JamieDHalper.

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