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Sylvester named interim dean of College of Law

June 03, 2011

Professor Douglas Sylvester has been named interim dean of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Sylvester, who has served for the last three years as the law school’s associate dean for Faculty Research and Development, was named to the new post by ASU upon the departure of Paul Schiff Berman who will assume the deanship at The George Washington University Law School.

According to Sylvester, “I’m very excited to take the lead at this dynamic and pivotal moment in the law school’s history. With a number of new initiatives underway, we have the momentum to propel ourselves even higher—to raise the law school’s national and international profile while enhancing the teaching and scholarship that have always been our core missions. However, my highest immediate priority is to work with the University to appoint a Dean Search Committee that will conduct a rigorous national search to find our next permanent dean who will continue ASU on the upward trajectory begun by Dean Berman.”

Sylvester, who joined the College in 2002, has played an active role in faculty recruitment and development. He has been a constant presence on faculty appointment committees, served on the Dean Search Committee that culminated in the selection of Berman and, since 2009, has been Associate Dean.

As Associate Dean, Sylvester was responsible for building a productive environment for fostering and promoting faculty scholarship. He organized the faculty speaker series, facilitated the development of the Visiting Assistant Professor Program, and mentored junior and aspiring faculty through the law school’s annual Southwest Junior Professors Workshop and annual Aspiring Law Professors Conference.

“I loved my role in fostering a richer academic environment for faculty and look forward to improving on those endeavors as Interim Dean,” he said.

Sylvester, who practiced law in the Global e-Commerce Practice Group at Baker & McKenzie in Chicago, also is looking forward to connecting with the Phoenix legal community and the law school’s alumni base in Arizona and around the country.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have close relationships with a wide range of legal professionals here in Arizona," he said. "The community has always been one of our greatest assets.”

Sylvester’s own scholarly interests are broad, ranging from legal history and the rule of law to international law and human rights to criminal law and law and psychology. “One of the reasons I became a law professor is the opportunity to indulge my myriad intellectual interests – an indulgence reflected in my scholarship and teaching.”

Along with Professors Gary Marchant and Ken Abbott, Sylvester taught the nation’s first law-school course on nanotechnology and the law and has published numerous articles on nanotechnology regulation.

“My experience at the College reflects our greatest strengths. We are not afraid to look to the future in our scholarship or our curriculum. We embrace change and innovation. We uphold diversity in thought and perspective. And we do this while holding strong to the values that made this school great – rigorous scholarship and passionate teaching,” he said.

These values are also reflected in the College’s numerous renowned programs in Indian law, law and innovation, clinical programs (among the most diverse of any law school in the country), family justice and international law.

As a faculty member, Sylvester was the founding director of the College’s Technology Ventures Clinic (now the Innovation Advancement Program), is the Faculty Advisor of the Jessup Moot Court and a member of the Moot Court Advisory Board at the College of Law. He is also a Faculty Fellow in the College’s Center for Law, Science & Innovation and the Center for Law and Global Affairs, an affiliate faculty in the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU, and a member of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, also at ASU.

Finally, he has served as a Special Consultant to the National Academies of Science Committee on National Statistics, consulted start-up technology companies on intellectual property commercialization, and has been an expert witness in numerous cases involving intellectual property enforcement and licensing.

Sylvester earned his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Buffalo Law School, where he served as executive editor of the Buffalo Law Review. He also has an LL.M. from New York University School of Law.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law