University of Missouri School of Law. (Photo Courtesy University of Missouri) University of Missouri School of Law. (Photo Courtesy University of Missouri)

 

Add another name to the growing list of women stepping up to law dean positions this summer.

The University of Missouri School of Law has selected Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky as it next top administrator.

Lidsky, who currently serves as the associate dean for graduate and non-J.D. programs at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, will assume the deanship on July 1.

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Lidsky will be Missouri’s first woman law dean, but she will have plenty of female company in legal education’s incoming top ranks. Six of the eight new deans named in March are women, as are well over half of this year’s total of new deans.

“I’m coming in on a wave of female deans,” Lidsky said in an interview Tuesday. “More and more women are rising in academic leadership. I think it’s an exciting time to be a dean, period. It’s also a challenging time to be a dean because of transitions in law practice and academia.”

More women are attending law schools and serving as associate deans there, which has increased the pool of qualified women dean candidates. And some men may also be shying away from participating in dean searches, given the increasing number of pressures law deans currently face, legal educators say.

Yale Law School; State University of New York at Buffalo Law School; University of Oregon School of Law; and Pennsylvania State University School of Law are among the law schools welcoming new women deans this summer.

Lidsky has spent the bulk of her career at Florida, having taught at the Gainesville school since 1994 and having served in a number of associate dean positions during her tenure. She is a First Amendment expert, and has taught constitutional law, torts, media law and professional responsibility, among other courses. She has taught several online law courses, and she was twice name Florida Law’s Teacher of the Year—a designation determined by the students.

“We’re excited to have [Lidsky] here as the School of Law enters a new era of innovation marked by collaboration that strengthens the student experience; contributes to greater scholarly success; and elevates the visibility of the School of Law and MU as one of the nation’s strongest land-grant research universities,” said Missouri Provost Garnett Stokes in an announcement of Lidsky’s appointment.

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Missouri is currently ranked No. 65 in the nation by U.S. News & World.

Lidsky said she was attracted to the Missouri deanship because of the university’s status as the state’s flagship institution of higher education, as well as the law faculty’s deep commitment to scholarship, and the law school’s relative affordability for students. (Annual tuition is $20,918 for residents.)

“I’m really excited about the prospect of helping the law school continue its rise into the top tier of law schools in the United States,” she said. “I think you do that by focusing on the student experience and providing students with the highest possible quality of education at an affordable price. I’ve always believed that shackling students with debt coming out of school really restricts their career choices.”

Student recruiting will be another top priority, she said, as will connecting law students with alumni for networking opportunities early on.

In addition to teaching, Lidsky blogs at PrawfsBlawg, the law-focused blog founded by the late Florida State University College of Law professor Dan Markel. She plans to take a six-month hiatus from blogging while she adjusts to her new dean job.

“I will stay engaged on social media,” she said. “I think it’s important for the leader of an academic institution to be engaged in social media, and my area of scholarship is social media law.”

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com. On Twitter: @KarenSloanNLJ