Kurt Schmoke ’71, former senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, will become dean of the Howard University School of Law, Howard officials announced last week.
Schmoke, who had served on the Yale Corporation since 1989 before he stepped down this summer, will assume his new position at Howard on Jan. 1, 2003. Schmoke said he plans to use the experience he gained at Yale in his new position, and hopes to continue working with Yale through an upcoming project at Howard that commemorates the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
“I think [having served on the Yale Corporation] will help me a great deal,” Schmoke said, “because I learned a great deal about a wide range of issues in higher education.”
Schmoke served on the Yale Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, for 13 years, including two as senior fellow. After graduating from Yale in 1971, he studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar before earning a law degree from Harvard. He practiced law in Baltimore, was appointed to President Carter’s White House domestic policy staff, and served as the mayor of Baltimore from 1987 to 1999. He will replace Howard Law Dean Alice Gresham-Bullock, who had served as dean since 1997 and resigned this year to continue teaching.
Schmoke said he is currently “unwinding” from his partnership at the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. He said he is excited to begin his new job at Howard, a historically black university in Washington, D.C.
“The most important thing [I will try to do at Howard] is to work to develop leaders who are prepared to confront the challenges of this century,” Schmoke said.
He cited Howard’s tradition of using the law creatively to address social justice issues.
Schmoke said a major project will be the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in 2004. Howard’s law school was key in the development of that lawsuit, which led to school desegregation, Schmoke said.
“We intend to play a major role in the national celebration of that case,” he said.
Schmoke has been in contact with Yale Law School Dean Anthony Kronman about the event and he noted there may be opportunities for collaboration between the schools.
Kronman said he looks forward to working with Schmoke, whom he praised for his integrity and compassion.
“Kurt Schmoke is an extraordinary man, a person of moral imagination and great personal courage who has faced practical challenges of life as mayor of Baltimore and thought about the intellectual complexity of law as a partner of a major firm,” Kronman said.
Yale President Richard Levin called Schmoke’s appointment “a perfect fit.”
“[He is] committed to making whatever institution he’s connected to stronger,” Levin said.
Levin added that the job will give Schmoke an opportunity to “mentor and develop leadership among the national African-American community.”
Schmoke said he was especially attracted to Howard because of H. Patrick Swygert, Howard University’s president.
“The president of the university, Pat Swygert, is a real leader in higher education,” Schmoke said. “I’ve just been very impressed with his leadership at the university — The more I explored this opportunity– the more excited I became about it.”
Schmoke currently resides in Baltimore. He will continue to live there and commute to Howard in Washington.