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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

The Levin College of Law dean search is back after President Emeritus Bernie Machen called off the search last Spring.

Machen appointed members to the committee, including co-chairs Diane McFarlin, dean of the College of Journalism and Communications, and Robert Rhee, a UF law professor.

The new dean search will cost $100,000 with search firm Isaacson, Miller. Last Spring, UF spent $90,000 for the failed search consisting of 24 candidates. UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes wrote in an email that the firm specializes in law dean searches. The University of Virginia used it last year.

When Machen decided not to select one of three finalists during the first search, controversy arose amongst college faculty, staff and students over the issue of diversity. The selected finalists included black University of Kentucky College of Law Dean David Brennen and openly gay former U.S. Ambassador David Huebner.

In an email from Spring, Machen wrote that he, along with the provost, “did not find one (candidate) ideally suited to lead the College.”

After the failed search, UF law professor George Dawson stepped in as interim dean to replace Dean Bob Jerry, who retired.

Dawson wrote in an email that the committee will take student input into close consideration.

“Celeste Thacker — a third year student — is a member of the search committee so there is direct student input to the committee in addition to any other methods the search committee may decide to employ,” he said.

Faculty and students are optimistic for the new search, which president-elect Kent Fuchs will oversee.

Jeffrey Harrison, a UF law professor, said he’s anticipating a dean with a proven leadership record.

“I’m personally looking for an experienced administrator from another school who has had success and who has a strong record of scholarship,” he said. “Somebody who really understands the challenges facing legal education.”

Separate from the search committee, the law faculty formed an advisory committee.

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UF law professor Pedro A. Malavet sits on the committee. He said the group advises the president and will have some say on the hopes for the law school.

“It opens up communication about law school concerns,” he said.

The search committee is set to meet within the coming week. McFarlin, one of the co-chairs, said she believes the committee members will provide unique perspectives to facilitate a successful search.

“Our law school deserves an exceptional dean,” McFarlin said.

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