Dean David W. Leebron Accepts Presidency at Rice University

Dear Graduates and Friends:

When this academic year began, I thought with some confidence that about a year from now I would become Columbia Law School's longest serving dean since Bill Warren. I write with mixed feelings to let you know that I have been appointed President of Rice University effective July 2004. I am excited by this new opportunity, but sad that I will be leaving Columbia, which has been my home for the past 15 years.

We have achieved an enormous amount during these years. Our recruitment of dynamic and accomplished scholars from across the nation (and indeed the world) has been extraordinary, with eight new faculty joining us in the past year alone. Columbia Law's students are genuinely happy to be part of this wonderful enterprise, and continue to apply what they learn here to positions of leadership in all areas of the law and society. Our buildings have been renewed and expanded through a $130 million investment by our graduates and friends.

All of our accomplishments have been possible only because of the depth of faculty engagement, the energetic contributions of administrative deans, a wonderful staff, and a community of graduates and friends who have been actively involved with us in helping achieve the very best that we aspire to.

I am confident, with the depth of leadership on our faculty, and the esteem in which the Law School is held around the nation, that the faculty and President Lee Bollinger will identify an outstanding individual to lead the law school in the important years ahead.

In the half year that remains of my deanship, I plan to continue to do all I can to serve Columbia Law School. I hope that time will bring as well the opportunity to personally thank everyone who has been so critical to our success.

David W. Leebron
Dean of Columbia Law School
and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law


Dean of the Faculty of Law;
Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law

A.B., Harvard, 1976; J.D., 1979. President, Harvard Law Review. Law clerk to Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1979. Adjunct professor of law, UCLA, 1980. In private practice at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, 1981-83. Member of New York University Faculty of Law, 1983-89. Visiting fellow, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany, 1988. Joined Columbia faculty in 1989; named dean in 1996. Jean Monnet Visiting Professor of Law in Bielefeld, Germany, 1992. Has taught and published in areas of corporate finance, international economic law, human rights, privacy, and torts. Most recent publications have been on the subjects of the implementation of the Uruguay Round trade agreements in the United States, the international harmonization of law, and the linking of trade agreements to other international regimes. Co-author of a textbook on human rights published by the Foundation Press in 1999. Serves as president of Columbia Community Service, on the editorial board of Foundation Press, and on the New York State Judicial Institute on Professionalism in the Law.

Dear Friends:

As you undoubtedly know, David Leebron will leave the law school to assume the Presidency of Rice University at the end of June.  Since David became dean in 1996, the law school has hired 28 new faculty members, nearly doubled its endowment, and increased the academic strength and diversity of its already-impressive student body.  The past eight years have been good ones for Columbia Law School, thanks in no small part to David's energetic leadership and sound judgment.

Choosing a worthy successor to Dean Leebron is both a challenge and an opportunity.  As the law school's ambitions have grown, so have its needs.  The next dean will oversee the largest capital campaign in the school's history, while managing the growing pains that will inevitably accompany Columbia's continuing transition from a national leader to a global leader in legal education and scholarship.

Accordingly, a faculty search committee has been designated to assist the law school and the university in finding the very best person for the job.  We write to you now to ask for your help in identifying outstanding decanal candidates and for any thoughts you may have about what the school's priorities ought to be in the coming years.

Over the next several months, the committee will reach out to alumni, students, faculty, and staff in a variety of settings.  Because we hope to complete our work in time for the next dean to hit the ground running at the start of the 2004-05 academic year, time is short.  Thus we are taking this initial opportunity to solicit your views in this admittedly impersonal way.

Please email your thoughts to dean[email protected] or mail them to:

Dean Search Committee
c/o Katherine Chung
Columbia Law School
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027

 Thank you in advance for your assistance with this exciting task.

Faculty Dean Search Committee

Michael Dorf (Chair) Merritt Fox Jane Ginsburg
Carol Liebman Thomas Merrill Gillian Metzger
Curtis Milhaupt Gerald Neuman  Kendall Thomas
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