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Manning, Professor and Constitutional Law Scholar, Named Law School Dean

Law School professor John F. Manning will be the next dean of Harvard Law School, the University announced Thursday.
Law School professor John F. Manning will be the next dean of Harvard Law School, the University announced Thursday. By Grace Z. Li
By Jamie D. Halper, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: Friday, June 2 at 12:19 a.m.

John F. Manning ’82, a constitutional law scholar and long-serving Law School professor, will be the next dean of Harvard Law School, University President Drew G. Faust announced Thursday.

Manning will assume the deanship on July 1, taking over from current dean Martha L. Minow. Minow has held the deanship for the past eight years.

Prior to his appointment, Manning served as the deputy dean at the Law School. He has served on its faculty since 2004, and attended both the College, where he lived in Quincy House, and the Law School.

Manning said it is his priority to engage in discussion with members of the Law School community and ensure that the school supports a “vibrant exchange of ideas.”

“I plan to do a lot of listening,” Manning said in an interview Thursday. “I plan to have a lot of conversations with students, staff, faculty and alumni to get ideas about what we want to accomplish as we begin our third century.”

In the press release, Faust also praised Manning’s work as a “university citizen”: he has served on the University-wide Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging and the HarvardX faculty committee.

“John Manning is known among colleagues and students for his intellect and humility, his wisdom and integrity, his energy and openness,” Faust said in a press release.

Outside of Harvard, Manning has worked at the Department of Justice as an attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of the Solicitor General. He has also served as a law clerk for former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Appeals Court Judge Robert H. Bork.

“Having admired John Manning since we were law students together more than 30 years ago, I know he will lead Harvard Law School with the energy, intelligence, collegiality, and good judgment that he brings to everything he does,” Elena Kagan, a former Law School dean and current Supreme Court justice, said in the press release.

The announcement comes after a months-long search process that began in January, when Minow announced her plans to step down as the conclusion of the 2017 academic year.

The selection process was conducted largely between Faust and a Faculty Advisory Committee, and some students voiced frustration throughout the year about what they saw as a lack of transparency and student inclusion in the process. The search committee organized several open forums for students to voice their opinions on the search. The leaders of ten student affinity groups endorsed Law School professor David B. Wilkins ’77 for the role in April.

Manning assumes the deanship at a time of transition in the Law School, which is in the midst of its bicentennial year. Over the past few months, the school has changed its admissions policies to allow students to submit the GRE in place of the LSAT, and has expanded its Junior Deferral program, which gives students the opportunity to apply to the Law School as a junior in college, to students across the country.

“I love Harvard Law School,” Manning said. “It’s where I learned to love the law and I’m very grateful to come to work here every day. It’s a great place and I’m so delighted to be taking on this new role.”

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

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