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Law dean to return to teaching


September 24, 2007

Patricia White, dean of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, has announced that she will step down at the end of June.

White, who became dean in January 1999 and was the first woman law dean in Arizona, informed ASU President Michael Crow of her decision in August. She plans to remain as a faculty member at the college after a sabbatical next year.

"I will have served in this position for nine and a half years," White said. "My own view is that no one should be dean for more than a decade, and I am certainly no exception."

"During her tenure, the College of Law embodied the idea of the New American University and its tenets of excellence, access and impact," Crow said. "The college is exceptionally strong because of Dean White's leadership and she has positioned it to move on to even better things."

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, for whom the college was renamed in 2006, praised White's work.

"Dean White has been a superb dean of the law school," O'Connor said. "She will be difficult to replace, but she will leave the law school stronger and more promising than ever before. We owe her our warmest thanks and appreciation."

White presided over the renaming of the college, the first time nationally that a law school was named for a woman.

"Dean White has been pivotal in transforming the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law into a world-class law school," Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said. "Her contributions to the ASU community as dean will surely be missed."

While White has been dean, the College of Law faculty has nearly doubled, its research and publications have gained national prominence, and there has been enormous growth in interdisciplinary programs in philosophy, psychology and international law.

Its Indian Legal Program is renowned, the Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology is the largest and most comprehensive law and science center in the country, and several unique joint programs have been established, including the M.D./J.D. program with the Mayo Medical School, and the Master of Real Estate Development with three other ASU colleges and schools.

At the same time, the quality and diversity of the student body improved, with more than twice the financial aid and scholarships provided, a result of more than doubling the College's endowment and increasing annual giving 20 fold.

The College's community outreach has greatly expanded with four new clinical programs - the Indian Legal Clinic, the Immigration Law & Policy Clinic, the Lodestar Mediation Clinic and the multidisciplinary Technology Ventures Clinic - and a Pro Bono Program in which students last year contributed 73,000 hours, conservatively valued at $7.3 million, to low-income and underserved populations that otherwise would have no access to legal assistance.

"I feel privileged to have played this role for so long," White said. "I have learned a great deal, had a lot of fun, and, together, with the help of many talented people, we have brought the school a long way."

Alan Matheson, who has been with the college since its founding in 1967 and has served as dean or acting dean five different times, called White "a phenomenal dean."

"She has strengthened all aspects of the college: faculty, academic programs, connection to the community, student bodies and fundraising," Matheson said.

Ernest Calderón, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents and head of Calderón Law Offices, said White's leadership of the college will be missed.

"Look at everything she's accomplished," Calderón said. "She's taken the College of Law to a higher strata than it's ever been while enhancing its outreach to poor people and those less fortunate. She's a national leader in that. She recruits people from less fortunate communities who go on to empower themselves and empower their communities."

White, a nationally recognized expert in tax law and bioethics, is a fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel. In addition to her professorship at the College of Law, she is an affiliated professor in the Department of Philosophy. She is a national leader in legal education, is secretary/treasurer of the American Law Deans Association and a former long-term member of the Board of Trustees of the Law School Admissions Council.

A national search will be conducted for White's successor.

Judy Nichols, judith.nichols@asu.edu
480-727-7895