ASU begins search for next Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law dean

July 9, 2021

Following a 10-year run as dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Douglas Sylvester has decided to step down due to personal reasons. Adam Chodorow and Zachary Kramer have been named co-deans in the interim while the university searches for a permanent successor.

As part of this transition, ASU has requested that Sylvester continue with the university in a consultative capacity for the upcoming academic year. Photo of former ASU Law Dean Douglas Sylvester and Co-Interim Deans Adam Chodorow and Zachary Kramer With Douglas Sylvester stepping down as ASU Law dean, Adam Chodorow and Zachary Kramer have been named co-deans in the interim as the university searches for a permanent successor. Download Full Image

Joining ASU Law in 2002 as an associate professor of law and then becoming professor of law a few years later, Sylvester quickly grew as a trusted, innovative leader within the college, first as associate dean for faculty research and development in 2008 before being appointed dean.

“Dean Sylvester served one of the longest tenures of any dean in the 54-year history of ASU’s College of Law, and by any measure it has certainly been one of the most transformative,” ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales said in a message to ASU Law faculty and staff.

“Since becoming dean over a decade ago, Dean Sylvester has played an integral role in transforming ASU Law from a strong regional law school to one of the most important institutions of legal training in the world,” Gonzales said. “Under his leadership, the law school has added dozens of new faculty, almost doubled enrollment of incoming JD students nationally and internationally, increased diversity, achieved financial self-sufficiency — all while moving up to be the youngest law school in the nation ranked in the top 25.”

While the national search for a new dean is underway, interim co-deans Chodorow and Kramer bring several years of experience as professors of law and leaders at the college.

Chodorow most recently has been serving as ASU Law vice dean and the Jack E. Brown Professor of Law. Before joining the faculty in 2004, he clerked for Judge Joseph H. Gale of the U.S. Tax Court. At New York University, he won the David H. Moses Memorial Prize for having the highest cumulative academic average and the Harry J. Rudick Memorial Award for distinction in the Master of Laws Tax Program. Previously, Chodorow was an attorney at Pacific Gas & Electric Company in San Francisco, where he worked on energy-related litigation and regulatory matters, and he also practiced commercial litigation for Shartsis, Friese & Ginsburg.

Kramer most recently has been serving as ASU Law executive associate dean and the Jonathan and Wendy Rose Professor of Law. Before joining ASU Law’s faculty in 2010, he taught at Penn State and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Kramer began his teaching career as the inaugural Charles R. Williams Teaching Fellow at UCLA School of Law. A graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, he served as the editor-in-chief of the University of Illinois Law Review.

“I know you will join me in doing all we can to support them in this role,” Gonzales said. “My thanks to Adam and Zak, already outstanding leaders at ASU Law, for stepping forward.”

“Dean Sylvester has been a tremendous leader in every respect,” Kramer said. “Under his leadership, the last decade has been transformative for ASU Law. It has been a huge honor for us to be a part of it.”

Added Chodorow: “We are excited to build on Dean Sylvester’s accomplishments and are looking forward to building an even brighter future. The law school will continue to provide the best possible legal education in the country at the most innovative university in the world. Classes will be live and in-person and have among the brightest and most inclusive group of students anywhere.”

Julie Tenney

Director of Communications, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

ASU alumna named Miss Arizona will compete in 100th anniversary of Miss America

July 9, 2021

Three-time Arizona State University graduate Amber Barto was recently crowned Miss Arizona 2021 and will go on to compete in the 100th anniversary celebration of the Miss America competition this December. 

Barto received two bachelor’s degrees from ASU in 2020: one in business law from the W. P. Carey School of Business and one in political science from The College of Liberal Arts and Science’s School of Politics and Global Studies. This year, she received a master’s degree in legal studies from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. Three-time Arizona State University graduate Amber Barto was recently crowned Miss Arizona 2021 and will go on to compete in the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Miss America competition this December. Photo courtesy Jenn Cady. Download Full Image

During her time at ASU, she was involved in a number of activities and organizations including the Sun Devil Spirit Squad and the ASU chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. Barto said the experiences and education she gained at ASU contributed to her success in the Miss Arizona competition.

“I think specifically with my major of political science, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences really helped me in the interview portion of the competition. … Some people know from watching our national competition that we have to be able to answer questions about policy, government and current events and talk about it in a way that is respectful and diplomatic,” she said. “Having an education from The College really helped me develop those communication skills and home in on both my opinions and then how to present them in a respectful way, as well as how to listen to other people's opinions.”

She said another thing that has continued to shape her worldview is the ASU Charter.

“ASU in general is so diverse and so willing to accept everybody while fostering an environment of collaboration. It comes back to that charter of 'it's all about who we include, not about who we exclude.' I just love that statement, and I think it is completely something that has carried with me outside of my time at ASU in the Miss Arizona program, as well as something I will carry with me throughout my life,” she said.

Barto’s journey in pageants started when she was 15 years old. She first served as Miss City of Maricopa’s Outstanding Teen in 2013 and went on to serve as Miss Arizona's Outstanding Teen in 2014. After competing in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen competition in 2014 and serving as Miss Scottsdale in 2019, Barto aspired to represent the state on an even bigger scale.

“Stepping on that stage was a dream come true. Competing for Miss Arizona was something I waited for for about seven years,” Barto said. “When my name was announced as Miss Arizona, it was surreal and just felt like such a full-circle moment to be there and standing on the Miss Arizona stage. It's an experience unlike any other, being given that opportunity.”

In addition to winning the Miss Arizona title, she also won the preliminary talent and red-carpet evening wear awards as well as the quality of life award for her social impact initiative, Leadership Through Service, which encourages youth to become involved in community service by bringing awareness to different causes and nonprofits. As part of this initiative, she has helped raise over $300,000 to benefit local charities and has volunteered more than 1,000 hours annually. As Miss Arizona, Barto said she hopes to continue inspiring community service participation, specifically within local youth populations.

“I would love to travel the state of Arizona and do a full school tour to talk about the importance of community service,” Barto said. “With younger kids, it's really about instilling that concept of empathy and selflessness while teaching that giving back is something really incredible. I also want to help people find causes that they’re really passionate about.”

The 23-year-old has lived in Arizona since she was 5 years old, growing up in the city of Ahwatukee. She has been an avid dancer since she was 2 and has won many awards, including an Olympic-recognized gold medal with the Arizona State Dance Team.

Barto serves as the communications director for the Phoenix affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, where she coordinates local media coverage and social media and advocates for funding and research initiatives.

This fall, she plans on taking the Law School Admission Test and applying to law school. She hopes to pursue a career in law and aspires to one day become the U.S. secretary of State or a U.S. Supreme Court justice. 

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Emily Balli

Communications Specialist and Lead Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences