Dean Symeon C. Symeonides will step down at the end of the academic year

Dean Symeon C. Symeonides has announced he will step down as Dean of the College of Law at the end of this academic year. Below is the announcement from Willamette University President M. Lee Pelton:

Dear Friends,

I am writing to let you know that Dean Symeon Symeonides has informed me that he plans to step down as Dean of the College of Law at the end of this academic year, effective May 31, 2011, and devote himself fully to scholarship and teaching at the law school. Peter Letsou, Associate Dean and Roderick and Carol Wendt Chair in Business Law, has accepted my offer to serve a two-year appointment as Dean of the College of Law, effective June 1, 2011, thereby, providing an excellent transition for the College of Law and my successor.

Symeon's tenure has been marked by outstanding achievements too numerous to recount fully and, as with all great Deans, he leaves the institution far stronger than he found it. The second longest serving Dean in the College of Law's 128-year history, Symeon has raised significant gifts for operations and endowment ($19 million or almost four times more than the amount raised during the law school's previous 116 years), and has overseen a significant growth in applications (136%), acceptance rates and the largest percentage of students from under represented backgrounds in the school's history, while providing significant increases in scholarship support. These successes in application growth have been matched by the best record of bar passage that the College of Law has seen in the last 30 years.

Symeon has also left his mark on the College of Law faculty, overseeing a significant expansion of the faculty marked not only by major increases in scholarly productivity, but also by gains in faculty diversity. Other highlights of Symeon's deanship include (but certainly are not limited to): a renovation of the law school building, including a modernization of the law school's classrooms; the acquisition and renovation of the Carnegie Building (now known as the Oregon Civic Justice Center), which houses, among other things, the Oregon Law Commission; the expansion of the Clinical Law Program, including the establishment of a $3 million endowment; and, most recently, the renovation of the law school lobby with an updated student lounge and café.

These accomplishments, by themselves, are remarkable enough. But they become even more impressive when considered against the backdrop of Symeon's continued productivity as a scholar throughout his deanship. Since coming to Willamette in 1999, Symeon has published 10 books, 44 law-review articles, and 16 shorter pieces; he has been characterized as a "giant" in his field and as "perhaps the world's leading expert on comparative conflicts law today;" and his publications have been cited by the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Moreover, throughout his deanship Symeon has remained active in scholarly organizations. He currently serves as Vice President of the International Association of Legal Science and as Honorary President of the American Society of Comparative Law, and is just now at the beginning of his chairmanship of a major law reform project for the European Union.

Peter Letsou joined the faculty of Willamette University College of Law in 2002 as the Isaac Van Winkle Melton Endowed Professor and Director of the College's Program in Law and Business. In 2003, Peter became the initial holder of the Roderick and Carol Wendt Chair in Business Law. In 2006, he was named associate dean. He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School with highest honors and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He was a comment editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and was twice selected as an Olin Foundation Fellow in Law and Economics. Prior to coming to Willamette, Peter was Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Corporate Law at the University of Cincinnati, a professor at the George Mason University Law School, and a lawyer in New York City. He is an active scholar and lecturer, who, in addition to serving as associate dean, directs the College of Law certificate program in law and business.

Symeon will be greatly missed as dean. However, I am confident that Peter's considerable experience as associate dean and professor will ensure that he will sustain and strengthen Symeon's enviable legacy.

M. Lee Pelton