Syverud is named School of Law dean

Kent D. Syverud, J.D., dean of the Vanderbilt University Law School, has been named dean of the WUSTL School of Law effective Jan. 1, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Syverud will also become the Ethan A.H. Shepley University Professor.

Joel Seligman, J.D., who came to WUSTL in 1999 to serve as law dean, will become president of the University of Rochester July 1.

Prior to Syverud’s arrival, Daniel L. Keating, J.D., WUSTL’s associate dean for academic affairs and the Tyrrell Williams Professor of Law, will serve as dean.

Kent D. Syverud
Kent D. Syverud

“I am delighted that Kent Syverud has agreed to serve as dean of the School of Law,” Wrighton said. “Kent has been an impressive force at Vanderbilt. His outstanding leadership and scholarship will be an integral part of Washington University School of Law’s continued development as one of the nation’s premier law schools.

“Kent is a very experienced academic leader, and I welcome his taking on special projects and interdisciplinary initiatives for the University, in addition to his responsibilities as law dean. I especially look forward to working with him as a member of the University Council.”

Syverud is looking forward to his new post.

“Washington University has a great law school within a great university, and I am honored to be coming to St. Louis to join its faculty,” Syverud said. “I love Vanderbilt and have benefited so much from my colleagues here. I hope to be a worthy steward at Washington University as well.”

Syverud announced in 2003 that he was stepping down as Vanderbilt’s law dean effective June 30, 2005.

“I think we succeeded in hiring the most talented law school dean candidate in the country,” Keating said. “Kent Syverud has a national reputation for excellence and integrity in everything that he does.

“While he was dean at Vanderbilt Law School, Kent was particularly effective in reaching out to alumni, in recruiting and retaining the best faculty, and in strengthening Vanderbilt’s career services operation. Joel Seligman is a very tough act to follow, but I am confident that Kent will oversee another great era at the School of Law.”

Keating chaired the search committee that recommended Syverud.

Among his accomplishments at Vanderbilt are the complete design, construction and fund-raising for a $24 million law school facility; and the creation of a law and business program, an L.L.M. program for foreign lawyers, and clinical programs on domestic violence and community economic development.

He also recruited 30 new faculty members and launched a $40 million capital campaign that will conclude in June 2008.

About Kent Syverud

Syverud has established an extraordinary reputation as a scholar in legal education, complex litigation, insurance and civil procedure. He is the author of numerous articles on the subjects and is a former editor of the Journal of Legal Education.

Syverud joined Vanderbilt’s Law School in 1997 as dean and the Garner Anthony Professor of Law. He has taught at least two classes a year while dean and is a recipient of the Paul Hartman Award for outstanding teaching there.

Outside Vanderbilt, Syverud is the chair-elect of the Law School Admissions Council’s Board of Trustees. He recently completed a term as president of the American Law Deans Association.

Prior to becoming dean at Vanderbilt, he was on the faculty at the University of Michigan School of Law, an associate with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, and a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Syverud earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in 1977, a law degree magna cum laude from the University of Michigan in 1981, and a master’s degree in economics from Michigan in 1983.

He and his wife, Ruth Chi-Fen Chen, have three children: Steven, 19; Brian, 17; and David, 16.