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Longtime New York Law School Dean and President Rick Matasar will step down during the coming academic year, he informed the faculty on June 28. The e-mail announcement did not reveal what Matasar will be doing following his departure. It did say that he hoped to remain at the school through the full academic year, but might need to leave at some point in January or later. “As most of you know, after 20 years as a law school dean, I have become very interested in higher education issues outside of legal education and am considering some exciting possibilities that would allow me to expand my intellectual scope and focus,” Matasar wrote. In a interview, Matasar said he was “considering positions that will allow me to work with younger students as they find their way to rewarding careers — both in the law and elsewhere.” He said he does not expect to take another position in legal education, but would stay involved with the profession in terms of its intersection with the liberal arts. Matasar has held the top post at the law school since 2000, and in that time oversaw a $40 million capital campaign, the opening of a new law school building in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood, and the restructuring of the first-year curriculum to emphasize practical skills. Matasar said that he was most proud of his students. “They are so hard working, sincere and dedicated to becoming lawyers that they inspire me every day,” he said. “I am indebted to those people, because they drive our school’s constant quest to improve and innovate. I know that we have built an activist culture that will never cease striving to make a difference in helping our students achieve their fondest dreams.” Matasar has been one of the loudest voices for the reform of legal education, along with former Northwestern University School of Law Dean David Van Zandt, who left last year to become the president of The New School in New York. Matasar has chastised law schools for not doing a better job of teaching students the skills legal employers want, and has repeatedly warned that the dual trends of rapidly increasing tuition and diminishing job opportunities for graduates make the existing law school system untenable. New York Law School and Harvard Law School recently hosted a three-part conference in which legal academics were encouraged to trade ideas and develop proposals to make law school curricula more relevant. Matasar has been one of the few legal educators publicly supporting controversial proposals to change the American Bar Association’s law school accreditation standards, including removal of what many law professors interpret as a tenure requirement. Matasar has argued that law schools need the flexibility to experiment with new ways of delivering legal education, including untenured faculties made up primarily of adjunct professors. Those views haven’t always been popular with legal educators who support the traditional model, and some have accused Matasar of pushing cost cutting at the expense of quality. New York Law School was Matasar’s third deanship. He served as dean of the University of Florida Levin College of Law from 1996 to 1996 and of Chicago-Kent College of Law from 1991 to 1996. Earlier, he taught at the University of Iowa College of Law for 11 years.

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