Courtesy of Yale Alumni Magazine
Yale Law School Dean Robert Post LAW ’77 will not seek a third term and will step down from his position at the end of the academic year after serving as dean for eight years.
The Yale Law School Director of Communications and Public Affairs Janet Conroy confirmed last week that Post would leave the role in June 2017 and return to teaching at the Law School. University President Peter Salovey told the News Thursday that a search committee has been assembled to find his replacement.
Post forwarded requests for comment to Conroy, who said Post could not comment because he was traveling.
In addition to his J.D. from Yale, Post earned both an undergraduate and doctoral degree from Harvard. He served as the David Boies Professor of Law from 2003 until 2009, when he succeeded former Dean Harold Hongju Koh as the Law School’s 16th dean. Prior to Yale, Post taught at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law for 20 years.
Post’s first term as dean lasted five years, at which point Salovey reappointed him to another three-year term ending in June 2017.
The search committee, composed of seven Law School faculty members, is chaired by Yale Law School professor Paul Kahn GRD ’77 LAW ’80. Kahn also chaired the committee that selected Post for the deanship in 2009.
Other committee members include Yale Law School professors Stephen Carter, who has been at Yale for over 30 years, and Amy Chua, a bestselling author.
Conroy said the search committee will seek advice from Law School faculty, students, staff and alumni and make a recommendation to Salovey by the end of the fall semester.
Former University President Richard Levin told the News in 2009, when Post was appointed, that Post was held in high regard by his fellow faculty members and was committed to the quality of a Yale Law School education. During Post’s tenure at the Law School, he led the development of the nation’s first doctorate program in law, which graduated its inaugural class in April 2016.
In 2013, Post secured a $25 million donation from Robert C. Baker ’56 LAW ’59 and his wife, Christina Baker. Two years from now, the donation will help transform Swing Space into law student housing, which the Law School has lacked since 2007 when its only dormitories in the Sterling Law Building were converted into academic and administrative spaces.
“He will be leaving a very strong Yale Law School,” said Kate Stith, a Law School professor and one of the search committee members.
Giovanni Sanchez LAW ’19 said he found Post welcoming and thoughtful, and recalled Post’s speeches during the Yale Law School Admitted Students Weekend. These speeches were reflective of Post’s caring attitude towards students, Sanchez said, adding that he did not anticipate that Post’s departure would cause significant change at the Law School.
“I think Dean Post did a great job in difficult times,” Omer Aziz LAW ’17 said. “He was not a perfect dean, but at the end of the day, he marched with students after Eric Garner was killed and raised the amount of summer funding that students doing public interest work could get.”
Students interviewed speculated on who the next dean might be.
Sanchez said that YLS professor Heather Gerken’s name has been brought up in conversations as a potential replacement for Post, while Aziz said that YLS professor John Witt ’94 LAW ’99 GRD ’00 would make a good dean, describing him as “gracious beyond words.”
Aziz said Witt encourages students to think for themselves. He added that Witt, who is in his 40s, is younger than Post, and that the Law School could use a “generational change.”
“The world is changing too fast and our institutions have to keep up,” Aziz said. “That starts with leadership at the top.”
Yale Law School was founded in 1824.
Andrew Ballard contributed reporting.