Delaware Law School Announces Dean Search
Widener University Delaware Law invites applications, expressions of interest, and nominations of candidates to be our next Dean.
About Widener Delaware Law
Delaware Law School was proudly established in 1971 as the first law school in the nation’s First State of Delaware. Today, a significant portion of the state bar – known for its distinguished and collegial legal community – is comprised of its alumni. The Delaware legal system has an excellent reputation nationally and internationally.
Delaware Law School awards Juris Doctor, Master and Doctor of Laws, and advanced non-law degrees through programs that are at the forefront of experiential learning. We emphasize hands-on experiences – including through clinics focused on veterans’ rights, dignity rights, criminal defense, environmental, and civil law – and community engagement with a curriculum and pedagogical model that gives every student frequent opportunities for expression, practical experience, and feedback. Our distinctive signature programs provide additional opportunities to specialize in corporate law, environmental law, family and health law, and advocacy.
The school comprises a vibrant community of teachers, scholars, and students with a diverse student body in both full and part-time programs, a distinguished faculty, and a dedicated staff. The law school's influential presence in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey provides students with abundant opportunities for clerkships, externships, pro bono experiences, and permanent employment after graduation. Our graduates enjoy a reputation of being practice ready.
We attribute the quality of our programs to our highly qualified and dedicated faculty who are accessible and committed to student learning; a robust and rigorous curriculum that has recently been significantly revised and improved; productive faculty governance and committee work; specialty institutes; small academic success and applied learning “lab” sections in the first year; emphasis on experiential learning; quality adjunct appointments; proactive academic success support throughout the program; strong support from the Legal Information Center, the Information and Technology departments and all administrative deans and staff; and the creativity and flexibility of members of the entire law school community.
Delaware Law is committed to principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We enhance and diversify our community with advanced legal education for lawyers from around the world. We foster an intercultural and inclusive classroom environment creating international alumni who meet the challenges of providing legal services globally. The law school adopted a strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion in November 2020 that outlines measures to improve promotion of DEIB in recruitment, the learning environment, bar passage, and job placement. Fruits of this work are reflected in our enrollment. The 2021 incoming class was the most diverse in law school history; this year’s incoming class is the third most diverse in school history. Overall, students of color represent 27% of the 2022 incoming class, 54% are female, 78% are first-generation law students, 45% are Pennsylvania residents, 22% are New Jersey residents, and 13% are Delaware residents.
The faculty at the Delaware Law School are renowned for their community engagement, scholarly productivity, and commitment to pro-bono legal representation and public service. Delaware Law houses a number of specialized institutes including Family Health Law and Policy Institute; Dignity Rights Institute; Institute of Delaware Corporate and Business Law; Innocence Clinic; and Taishoff Advocacy, Technology and Public Service Institute. Our externship program is built on valuable, longstanding relationships with judicial and public interest field placements in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Nearly 12,500 Delaware Law alumni practice locally and throughout the world. This distinguished group includes past presidents of the Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey bar associations, and more than 220 judges, including a sitting justice on the Delaware Supreme Court and a sitting justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Delaware Law School is located along the northeast corridor halfway between Washington, D.C., and New York City, and just five miles from America’s “corporate capital” of Wilmington. It is roughly 30 minutes from Philadelphia and an hour to Baltimore. Situated in the scenic Brandywine River Valley, the school is close to many cultural attractions including Longwood Gardens, Winterthur Museum, Hagley Museum and Library and the Wilmington Grand Opera House. Cultural opportunities in nearby Philadelphia are plentiful, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, Independence Hall, concert venues and vibrant nightlife offerings. Professional sports teams abound for the baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and hockey enthusiast. Delaware’s thousands of acres of parkland for fishing, boating, and hiking, and miles of exceptional ocean beaches, are a playground for outdoor lovers. With no sales tax, shopping is always a bargain and an adventure.
Because Delaware Law is located on a standalone campus approximately thirteen miles away from Widener University’s Chester campus, and in a different state, the Dean will exercise responsibility in areas not typically in a dean’s portfolio, including facilities, campus safety, information technology, and other operational areas. Although the Dean has daily engagement with these matters, they are formally managed by subject-matter experts at the Chester Campus.
Desired Qualities and Characteristics
The Dean will serve as the chief administrative officer of the School and reports to the Provost. The successful candidate will be a strong and bold leader who will contribute to the long-term vision of the Law School, and inspire students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and other community members to support the Law School. The University seeks a collaborative leader who will be visible, accessible, and approachable to all constituents internal and external to the institution.
The successful candidate must have: a J.D. degree or its equivalent; an established record as an exceptional teacher and scholar or comparable professional achievement meriting appointment as a tenured professor; significant administrative experience; outstanding communication and leadership skills; the ability to relate effectively to a variety of internal and external constituencies; and a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
Additional qualifications include:
- An understanding of the research, instructional and service needs of a School of Law Demonstrated ability to engage the entire law school community and leverage the strengths of the institution within the surrounding area
- Demonstrated ability to build on the foundation of its mission and core values, and ensure the highest standards of quality and academic excellence
- Experience cultivating an environment that supports the needs of students in a meaningful and interactive way
- An entrepreneurial spirit to foster necessary changes within the academic enterprise
- An unwavering commitment to promoting a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment
- Demonstrated ability to develop collaborative relationships with the law school’s many constituencies including faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and local community members
- Strong fiscal and philanthropic acumen with demonstrated success in navigating the shifting financial landscapes
- Demonstrated ability to leverage data to lead and improve student success outcomes Strong interpersonal and communication skills
About Widener University
As the university celebrates its 200th year, we are making history—reflecting on our storied past and looking toward an even-brighter future. We respond with agility and resolve to the challenges of our time, ensuring our students’ success with timely guidance and innovative solutions.
Empowering our community of learners to discover and create better futures.
Widener University is committed to the core values of respect, integrity, and excellence, to which we hold ourselves accountable.
- Respect - We care for and honor the dignity of all in our community.
- Integrity - We stand courageously, in thought and action, for what is ethical.
- Excellence - We hold ourselves to the highest standards and support others in our community to achieve excellence in all they do.
Our Guiding Principles
We’re all Widener. In the core of our culture lies a powerful commitment to respect, mutual understanding, and unity. We take great pride in being a welcoming and inclusive community—one that celebrates the value and dignity of each individual, and weaves together a rich diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
The Widener experience is distinguished by dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, experiential learning, and industry-specific leadership development. We are dedicated to engaging our students in transformational opportunities that broaden their worldview and prepare them for the world and the workforce.
These values are reflected in rigorous academic expectations and high-impact educational practices that promote student engagement and learning. Whether seeking a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Widener students elevate their learning through intensive, collaborative, community-based experiences—at home and abroad.
Strategy and Building for the Future
Building on a bold vision and significant institutional momentum, the university launched a transformative process in 2019—to think about the future of everything we do and to reimagine student support services to meet the demands of a radically shifting world. A clear strategy emerged from this work: a focus on institutional nimbleness and the enhancement of the student experience we call “Agility Experienced.” Like its development, the implementation of our strategy is dynamic and bold, with a focus on leveraging the tenets of design thinking and user experience. A metaphor that has become fundamental to our work is that the people of Widener build with “LEGO blocks” rather than “poured concrete.”
In short, through clear-eyed assessment and flexible thinking, we will maximize agility and continuous improvement.
This Agility Experienced strategy is constantly enlarged and reinforced as we enact it everywhere and invite ideas and examples from across the university. As the people and departments of Widener achieve the potential of Agility Experienced, we will increase our capacity to adapt to rapid change and to position the university for continued success.
The university’s seven schools and colleges offer associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as professional certificate programs.
- Commonwealth Law School
- Delaware Law School
- The College of Arts and Sciences
- The College of Health and Human Services
- The School of Nursing
- The School of Business Administration
- The School of Engineering
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Advancing a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is a major priority at Widener University. Under the ethos We’re All Widener, the university community unites to engage in difficult conversations, rethink curriculum and policy, and take action to deepen understanding and respect within our community. In the wake of recent nationwide discussions centered on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, Widener has:
- Leveraged campus-wide dialogues and hosted programming focused on such topics as systemic racism, LGBTQ allyship, and interfaith dialogue
- Engaged faculty and staff in a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
- Introduced new and revitalized committees to promote DE&I efforts, including the reorganized Diversity Leadership and Inclusion Council (DLIC); and the new DLIC Student Advocates Task Force
- Evolved the university’s approach to student recruitment and hiring practices to attract a more diverse community
We have made significant and measurable progress through changes in leadership, processes and procedures, professional development, curriculum, and student outcomes. While we are proud of this momentum, our work continues.
Widener has three campuses. The Chester, Pennsylvania campus houses almost all undergraduate and graduate programs. The Wilmington, Delaware campus houses the Delaware Law School. The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania campus houses the Commonwealth Law School as well as a satellite program for the School of Nursing.
Nominations and applications (letters of interest, resume/CV and contact information of at least three references), or expressions of interest should be submitted to Parker Executive Search, at the e-mail addresses below. Review of materials will continue until the appointment is made. It is preferred, however, that all nominations and applications be submitted by December 1, 2022.
Porsha Williams, Vice President
Erin Raines, Senior Principal
Parker Executive Search
770-804-1996 ext. 109 | 770-804-1996 ext. 117