Saint Louis University has named William P. Johnson, a member of its faculty since 2012, as the new dean of its law school.
Johnson, 45, who has been director of the school’s Center for International and Comparative Law, takes over Jan. 3 from the retiring Michael Wolff, who has been dean since 2013. Johnson also has directed the SLU Summer Law program at the university’s campus in Madrid, Spain.
“It is a tremendous honor to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead the Saint Louis University School of Law, and it is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Johnson said in a statement. “I am mindful that there are major challenges in legal education today facing every U.S. law school. There is hard work to do.
“But I have seen over and over how impressive and how dedicated to SLU our alumni are; I know how hard-working, responsible and accomplished the student body is; I am amazed every day at the brilliant accomplishments of my faculty and staff colleagues; I see terrific opportunities that come with being part of an outstanding university; and I believe in our mission.”
SLU Provost Nancy Brickhouse said Johnson was chosen after a national and internal search that drew many qualified candidates.
“We are fortunate to find such a bright, collaborative leader with a global view of legal education,” Brickhouse said. “Bill is the right person to move the School of Law forward and has strong support within the law school, where he has served on a number of important committees.”
Wolff, who had rejoined the SLU law faculty after retiring from the Missouri Supreme Court, became dean during a turbulent time at the law school.
Annette Clark resigned as dean in 2012 after a public dispute with the Rev. Lawrence Biondi, who was president of the university. She said the administration had failed to live up to the ideals of “common decency, collegiality, professionalism and integrity.”
Her interim successor was Tom Keefe, a high-profile Metro East defense attorney and a member of the SLU board of trustees. He resigned after several months following complaints about inappropriate remarks he made, reportedly about students and faculty meetings.
He acknowledged saying things he described as “politically incorrect,” adding that they were not meant to hurt anyone.
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