Dean Designate Kathleen M. Boozang in the National Law Journal
Today, women comprise 30% of all law school deans
The National Law Journal reports on the marked rise in the number of women who are serving as deans of law schools over the past few years. In 1998, there were 14 female law school deans in the ABA. Today, there are 59, comprising 30% of all law school deans in the U.S. Eleven of the 28 deans who will begin new deanships this summer are women, including Dean Designate Boozang.
Seton Hall Law was founded by a woman, Miriam T. Rooney, who served as dean from 1951 to 1961. She was not only Seton Hall’s first female dean, but was in fact the first woman dean at an accredited law school in the U.S. “For our faculty, it's a point of pride and not a phenomenal thing to have a women dean," said Dean Boozang. She is Seton Hall Law’s third female dean. Professor Elizabeth Defeis served as Dean from 1983 to 1988.
The article points to some underlying trends affecting women in the dean’s role, noting that most come from within the academy and have risen through the ranks – chairing committees, serving as interim or associate deans, for instance. In addition, all deans face similar challenges in today’s legal education environment, calling for deans to exercise strategic thinking and resourcefulness:
Law schools used to emphasize scholarly research in dean searches, Boozang said…Today, with enrollment down and budgets strained, search committees look for a broader skill set...
‘Deans have to do a lot of hard things these days,’ Boozang said. ‘Their schools might, for example, decide they need to right-size. In some instances, you're looking for a combination of the soft skills to do hard things in a humane way.’